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The Princess and the Knee

CCK’s version of The Princess and the Pea.  Did you ever read that childhood story?  Was I the only one who put a pea under my bed to see if I could feel it?  (Please reassure me that I wasn’t!)

My favorite story, growing up, though, was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Every single night, we coerced my poor mother into reading it (and also Where the Wild Things Are, for my sister).  After a while, she didn’t need the books anymore, and she made up her own versions (out of boredom, I’m sure), such as a version where Max (of Where the Wild Things Are) decides to bring all the wild things home with him!  Needless to say, my sister and I liked Mom’s versions even better than the originals.

Now it’s my turn to make up a new version of a classic story.

Therefore, today’s post is not about peas, but knees.  A few months ago, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that my new shoes were aggravating my knee.  (The problem subsided, and I’m now running pain-free.)  After the post, two girls left comments asking if I had any advice about taking care of one’s knees as a runner.

Aside from the aforementioned shoe issues, I’ve not had any knee pain or problems with my knees, so I thought I’d put this post out there in case some of you super-smart bloggers and blog-readers know more about the topic!

Personally, there are two big things I do to take care of my knees:

1. I usually run on the grass instead of the pavement.  (No, not on peoples’ lawns; I run on the grass that’s between the sidewalk and the road.) The softer surface is less stressful on my joints.  Plus, I feel like the rougher terrain also gives my muscles a better workout.

2.  I lift weights and stretch to strengthen my knees.  Oh, and I make sure to take at least one rest day per week to recuperate.

But I’d love to know all of your thoughts.  What precautions do you all take, during or after exercise, to protect your joints/muscles/bones/etc?  Any tips from seasoned runners on caring for one’s knees?

Chocolate-Covered Meal of the Day

Featuring a Rainbow Sandwich on an Ezekiel pita (with mixed greens because I didn’t have broccoli sprouts on hand).

rainbow sandwich

Next up: How to Beat the Heat.


Wish you were here.  Wish I were here….

Published on June 8, 2009

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  1. prettyladycmu says

    Good morning!

    As far as knee/leg care, I try to stretch thoroughly after each workout. If I’m working out from home, I also use the foam roller I have to work out any knots or tension. That’s been a huge help in preventing injury.

    My favorite books were ‘A is for Annabelle’ and the Brambley Hedge books.

    Have a great day 🙂

  2. Regi says

    Hee hee, I remember totally wanting to put a pea under my bed…but sadly I never got around to it!!!
    As for shoes, I’m not a huge runner, but I went to this store called The Running Room and the super nice people there helped me pick the perfect pair. They had me do some squats and lunges and they watched me walk around the store so they could see how much arch support I needed. It was a little funny because I was wearing a skirt that day, but I walked out with the comfiest, best workout shoes I have ever owned! No ankle or knee pain! Might I suggest going to a store that does the same kind of thing?

  3. Anne K. says

    I suffer from knee issues– I’ve been diagnosed with patella-femoral syndrome. I try not to run more than 3 times a week, as I’ve found that’s what helps me. I also foam roll every night–this is a must! I truly notice a difference when I do and don’t do it.

    I also run in quieter neighborhoods where I can run on the road (always the left side!) The sidewalk is SO hard on your joints. If you have even grass to run on, that’s great. But the grass around here is really uneven, and you could easily twist an ankle. So, the road is actually kinder to your joints. Just BE CAREFUL! Always assume that cars don’t see you, and be ready to jump onto the lawns/driveways if a car is coming close to you. And it’s great if you can find safe neighborhoods to run in, preferably where you can see a good distance ahead of you.

    Also, be sure to stretch! For me, tight quads are a big issue. Make sure you have the correct shoes for your foot type and running style. If you have weird feet (I do!), I suggest orthotics. Since they were prescribed to me, my insurance paid for them (thankfully! I know they’re super expensive).

    I also take glucosamine/chrondrotin/msm supplements to help with my knees. If you are okay with it, I suggest fish oil supplements, too. It’s been shown to help with joint pain. Flaxseed is also good.

    Alright I know this is long, but I’ve definitely struggled with my share of knee pain. I hope this helps some people!

  4. keri410 says

    One of my favorite childhood books was Dr Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go”. Such a great book with such an AWESOME message. I still love it!

    I am no seasoned runner, but like Anne said, making sure you get all the right nutrients in your body is key.

    That pita sandwich looks delicious, I’ll definitely have to look into trying one out!

    Have a great day!


  5. brandi says

    grass is much easier on your joints, but we usually run on pavement since that’s what we have. I haven’t had any bad knee issues yet, though.

  6. Ksenia says

    I have been running for 7 years, and luckily I have never had knee problems. Nevertheless, no one runner get out of suffering from something. In my case, are the ankles and my feet toes. After running for one hour, my toes get full of blisters. Sometimes I am scared of my own feet! >.< Talc helps a little because it absorbs the sweat, but it is not absolutely effective.

    It's great to fins more people who like running =) My friends think that I am crazy because I can spend an hour running They say that it is a lose of time…and I reply them that they can't imagine how well you feel after it =D

    By the way, your meal looks delicious =)

  7. Hearts Whole Foods says

    I loved all the princess-ey fairy-tales when I was a kid. Especially Cinderella. I had quite a collection of various bedtime stories.

    I used to have knee problems to and usually running on softer surfaces does help (treadmill is a lot easier on the knees than asphalt), so you are doing the right thing by running on grass! Maybe I should start trying that, although in my neighborhood, we have trees in the grass too, so I have to be careful to not run into them 😉

  8. Run Sarah says

    I have been having some knee issues lately…I like the idea of trying to run on grass as I almost always run on cement. I find stretching & yoga really helps me!

  9. JB says

    oh i loved where the wild things are! but my absolute favorite books growing up were the berenstain bears books. my grandma would bring over a new one almost every time she came over and read it to me. good thing there were so many of them!

    i wish i had some advice to give you about knee care, but sadly i don’t. instead, i’m going to ask something of YOU! haha. do you still have the list of non-leather shoes that nike sent you? the shoes i’ve been wearing for a while are becoming unbearable, and are hurting my feet. i’ve been meaning to buy a new pair for so long and i would love to take a look at that list! but if you don’t have it, no worries, i can always contact them myself. have a beautiful monday!


  10. Kiersten says

    One of my favorite childhood books was “The Stinky Cheese Man.” My mom and I used to read it together all the time because I thought it was funny. It was kind of a spoof on classic fairy tales.

  11. Anonymous says

    My favorite book (like Kiersten) would be the Stinky Cheese Man! Loved it!

    What a fabulous idea for running in the grass! I always feel the pavement hurts my joints too much. Next time I crave a good run, I’ll try it out!

    I must try that sandwich, it sounds yum!

    So jealous of that picture right now, I wish I were there!

  12. Jane says

    my favorite bedtime story…hmm maybe Goodnight Moon?
    I’m so glad to here that your knees aren’t bothering you anymore!
    Along with the tips you gave, I would emphasis replacing shoes regularly (350-500 miles which is a different length of time for everyone depending how much you run per week) and getting shoes that work with your bio mechanics.
    Are you surprised that my tip would be about running shoes? Yeah, me neither 😉

    P.S. I mentioned you in my last post 🙂

  13. Erin says

    Katie, you are so cute! I hope your knee is doing better! I try to run on the grass as well, for those exact same reasons.
    I love the new blog!
    <3 Erin

  14. Sarah says

    I’m so sorry about your knees! I wish I had some good advice, but I do know that sticking to soft surfaces IS better, even if it is a treadmill.

    I love your sandwich/burrito type pita! Ole!

  15. Jessica says

    For me it’s all about the stretching! That, and I wear special inserts inside my running shoes 🙂 Even so, my knees still get sore after a few consecutive days of running but I bike or use the cross-trainer to help with that.

  16. Shelby says

    My favorite book (like Kiersten) would be the Stinky Cheese Man! Loved it!

    What a fabulous idea for running in the grass! I always feel the pavement hurts my joints too much. Next time I crave a good run, I’ll try it out!

    I must try that sandwich, it sounds yum!

    So jealous of that picture right now, I wish I were there!

  17. Alisa - Frugal Foodie says

    My hips turn in, so I have uber-tight IT bands that pull on my knee caps. I have real traction issues and a post-surgery knee making long distance running very difficult. So that I can at least enjoy short runs, after I am warm, I do a hip stretch leaning into the IT band. This helps to losen just enough to prevent the pulling. When I feel it tighten, I stop and give ‘er a little stretch again.

    Overall though, if you have a build like mine, I recommend sports instead of straight out running. Side to side movement (soccer, tennis, etc.) helps to balance things out and keep the muscles around the knee engaged rather than a repetitive straight motion. Just my thoughts though 🙂

  18. Virginia says

    that’s a good idea about running on the grass, most runners i see are always on the pavement or concrete!

  19. traveleatlove says

    Make sure to take enough rest days! Also if you lay on your backand do a variety of leg lifts- toe pointing up, toe pointing out, toe pointing in, you strengthen all of the supporting muscles around the knee. This has helped me when training for hs cross country and marathons since. Be careful! My friend is a physical therapist, and runners with knee problems keep her in a job!

  20. Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) says

    I noticed my knee bothers me more when I’m running on the side of the road due to a slight indent/curve, which creates one short leg and one long leg. When I run in the middle of the road (I live in a low-car area though) it doesn’t bother me as much.

    I also include lots of stretching post-run.

    And I make sure that I don’t hear myself plodding the ground when I run, which is a sure sign that my knee is going to hurt. I have to mentally remind myself to not land flat-footed which causes more of an impact.

    AND, last, but not least, I totally agree that running on grass makes it so much better. A soft impact is a nice change from running on pavement! 😀

  21. Bibis says

    Oh i run on the grass too! because if i run on the pavement my ankles hur BADLY. do you ever get ankle problems?
    oh by the way do u know what’s the spanish word for kale? is it acelga?? im not sure, but if it is, i have the yummiest recipe for kale 😀

  22. Shannon says

    Hi there 🙂 There was just actually a play at my old high school of Princess and the pea.. How much fun would it be just to stack 20 mattresses on top of eachother!! ooh we can dream 🙂

  23. glidingcalm says

    Katie!! I love you! And the thoughtful comments you leave!! I totes agree, and love that we share the same “background”(?) of Japanese culture!! Since my parents lived there for YEARS, our family diet is highly influenced by Asian culture. Plus we both share the same loves for beautiful Asian style dishware! 🙂

    Put up that tempeh on the blog!!! I’d love to see it!! It has been WAY too long since I’ve had it!

    Take care love bug! You are amazing!!!

    P.S. So neat about the leather-free Nike shoes!! They fit me the best, so I always end up buying the Nike brand. And no I don’t have running tips! It hurts my knees to run, so I stick to fewer high-impact exercises!

  24. sweetkaroline says

    Haha speaking of peas…my favorite children’s story growing up was the Princess and the Pea. I don’t know why I loved it so much but I did.

    Speaking of knees, if you can afford it, regular massage sessions are ideal for getting out knots and such in your muscles. When your muscles start to knot up and hold tension from compensating from other structural deficiencies they add up over time and can start hurting your major joints (hips/knees/ankles etc)

    I can’t afford massages (yet!) so I use a foam roller to massage everything out before and sometimes after I work out. It’s painful but feels good at the same time. Weird!


  25. Amy says

    My dad used to make up stories about a naughty boy, Penrod Schofield (a Booth Tarkington character), who got in trouble all the time and dragged along a Matt and Amy with him (my brother and me!). Thanks for reminding me of those stories!

  26. hummusamongus says

    hey girl!
    I’m a new bloggie and I just have to tell you that I am in love with those dishes! I’m totally obsessed with cute plates and bowls =)
    ps. your eats look amazing as usual!

  27. runningbetty says

    It’s a combination of what everyone said:
    1. run in the right shoes
    2. stretch after each run
    3. ice after long runs (that’s over 11 miles in our house)
    4. cross train
    5. take rest days
    and I would add:
    6. run in Florida where it is flat 🙂

  28. dustin44dusti says

    My wife has bad knees. She’s been taking the Dr Powers Joint Support + Vitamin B12 for 45 days. She said that she could tell a difference after about three weeks, the pain seemed to be less. The tablets are easy for her to swallow and she has trouble swallowing a number of pills.

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