As a traveler, mountaineer and tour cyclist, my life revolves around being on my feet. It is centered around running, cycling or hiking long distances.
I cant imagine living life any other way. Throughout the years and through some emotionally taxing relationships, I have used my feet, specifically running, to stymie difficult emotions and stress.
Though to my horror, this life path has not always been easy on my body. Particularly, a human beings most vulnerable joint; The Knee.
It began when I was working in Mt Rainier National Park in the summer of 2018. I was working in a gear shop for a renowned mountain guide service and got in the habit of waking early each day before work, to run miles through the forest and trails surrounding Mt. Rainier.
I loved the atmosphere of the Park and the towering Douglas fir trees and Glacier capped Rainier, inspired my senses and encouraged me to take in as much as possible.
But I over did it, I completely went overboard in my exploration and fitness ambitions.
I began to develop annoying pain right smack dab in the middle of my knee. It felt tight, sore and uncannily vulnerable. It was completely new to me, as I had never dealt with a knee injury prior, even through years of youth wrestling, soccer and football in Iowa.
The commencement of this pain, should have been a clear warning sign to me that it was time to take it easy, slow down bucko. But unfortunately for my legs, I chose not to give a fuck and kept on training.
This is a common response for many athletes I think, to push through pain. To not let aches and pains stop us from doing what we feel called to do.
In July of 2018, I climbed Mt Rainier for the first time and felt ecstatic upon reaching Colombia Crest.
Overlooking the glorious Pacific Northwest with Mt. Adams, Mt Hood and St. Helens in clear view on a bluebird day, was an incredible experience that I just hadnt had before.
I became charged with more motivation. Motivation to become a Guide on Mt. Rainier.
The day after completing my first ascent, I awoke and ran four miles before going in to work at noon. It was a very strange thing to do, as I had just completed one of the most strenuous acitivities of my life the day prior and I also had to work a full day afterwards.
The days following, my coworkers and housemates began to take notice of my obsession.
“Bryce, you need to chill my friend. You’re gonna burn yourself out.” I would hear them say.
Nonsense, I thought. What do these pot smoking hippies know?
By the end of the climbing season in late September, the pain had grown worse and I wasnt sure how to proceed.
In October of 2018 with the end of the seasonal job in Washington, I returned home to Iowa and got work in an Organic grocery store as an assistant manager in the Vitamin and Supplement department. I stocked alot of shelves and ran a cash register, while routinely walking up to five miles per shift.
In the summer of 2019, I ran a half marathon. The pain in my knee winced and waned but I decided to see a specialist. X-rays revealed nothing abnormal and the doctor with a very Croatian last name, said my knee looked perfect…until he took his thumb and jabbed into directly into the tendon running down my knee into the shin.
“Ouch,” I griped.
“Ahh,” The doctor sighed.
“Jumpers Knee.” He said.
He prescribed two months of physical therapy at the local PT center.
PT was helpful but afterwards, I returned immediately to a high activity level that was not all together in my best interest.
In late 2019, I backpacked through Ireland and Great Britain for Three months, while walking and hiking 10 miles or more on most days.
I cycled around County Kerry and Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula and climbed it’s highest Mountain, Carrauntoohil, three different times.
During the initial Covid outbreak in 2020, I moved to Durango Colorado and spent my days stocking grocery shelves, installing solar panels and hiking various mountains in the San Juan range.
In 2021, I returned to work in Mt. Rainier National Park and repeated another summer of mountain climbing and trail running.
Thus, perhaps I should not be surprised that now in 2022, the pain has forced me to take a sabbatical from serious outdoor activities. Through my stubbornness, I have discovered that the best treatment for acute Jumpers Knee, is prolonged rest, along with a few other things.
While I am not sure if there is a cure for Jumpers Knee, or Patellar Tendonitis, There are a few things one can do to prevent flare ups and keep pain to a minimum.
- Take 1-2 months off from strenuous activities– This is absolutely pivotal in the beginning stages of the condition. I would have saved my self a whole lot of pain and struggle if I would’ve just slowed the hell down when I was working in Mt Rainier. Though I have defiantly found since, that taking consistent time off my feet is imperative to keeping pain in check.
- Clean Diet- Avoiding Sugar, Alcohol and Coffee is critical to keeping inflammation down.
- Supplement with Omega 3’s and Glucosamine– I have found Omega 3’s from a Liver Cod Oil supplement to help alot with pain and feelings of weakness in my knee. Studies have shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and providing nutrients fragile areas of the body. Glucosamine can also be helpful and NOW’s glucosamine supplement is one of the best on the market
- Squats and Lunges– Doing squats, both weighted and unweighted, at least 3x a week strengthens the muscles around the knee and also sends blood flow to the tendon. Consistently doing these exercises, while temporarily avoiding the activities that orignally caused the injury is the long term, best way to heal and avoid worsening the condition.
- Yoga and Stretching- With Patellar tendonitis, the muscles around the knee often get bunched up and overly tight. Doing active stretching is pivotal to releasing the friction and allowing for more bloodflow into the joint