I have a question about running... I am not sure if I am just really sore of if I injured my calf/back of the knee. It is so sore after a run. During the run it is kinda painful for the first 10 minutes and then it is fine. I stretch really good too, but sometimes that leg is so stiff, it kills to just touch my toes. What should I do.
Common injuries to the back of the knee (the Popliteal Fossa or Knee Pit) are due to overextention and overuse. There is actually not a muscle behind the knee, but a ligament called the Lateral Collateral Ligament that connects the Femur to the Fibula. This means that you've most likely extended this ligament too far too many times and it is sore and possibly strained. Overextention happens frequently in down hill running.
So what do you do?
First, know you're body. I can often run through a lot of injuries and heal as I continue to train. Your body may respond differently.
Stop stretching that knee! To continue putting pressure on that knee may cause further damage or keep the Lateral Collateral Ligament from healing.
Heat & Ice. I LOVE Icy Hot or some muscle rub equivalent. Put it on before you run. After you run, ice to keep swelling down (or blood from rushing to the injured area)...use a package of frozen veggies like peas & carrots for 20 minutes if you can. After that, put the muscle rub back on for the day. I've been miraculously healed by muscle rub several times!
Buy new shoes! How long shoes last is dramatically effected by how we wear them. Running shoes should also be rotated from day to day to give the cushion time to "re inflate"...they'll also last longer. A good indication that you need new shoes is to notice whether the tread on the bottom is worn down or not...take a look. Check out this site for more help.
Strength train. Once you feel your knee is adequately healed, start pumping weights! Lifts that will especially help stregthen the knee and keep it injury free are Hamstring curls, calf raisers, adduction and abduction standing leg lifts, and leg extention. These lifts stregthen the muscles around the knee, keeping it safe.
Stretch--yoga style. Again, once you feel your knee is pretty much good to go, try checking out some yoga videos/books/classes. If you've never done it before, it's much different from the normal "touch your toes" stretching that you might be more familiar with. I think it's magic. I used to get pretty serious injuries 3 times a year, but since I started yoga 6 years ago, I HAVE NOT BEEN INJURED SINCE! Yoga stretches the muscles deeply in possitions that truely engage. You don't have to do hours of it a day...some days I only have time for a few rounds of the Sun Salutation, but like I said...still injury free!
Depending on your body, as I noted earlier, and your desire to keep training you can try these suggestions as you continue to run or take a few days/weeks off and rest that knee.