On the Run Again

Viktor Vigfússon thought his days chasing sheep were over

Viktor Vigfússon recently spent the day herding sheep at Rangárvellir, a farm region in his native Iceland. Herding, as the few who have tried it will attest, is all about running around. Chasing sheep, of course.

For Vigfússon, herding was nothing new. It had long been a favorite hobby. What was different this time, however, was that he was wearing a brace. A year earlier, Vigfússon, an active off-road and long distance runner, was diagnosed with a torn articular disk. His pain was severe and he could not have imagined that he’d be after the lambs again anytime soon, pain-free.

Vigfússon immediately stopped running and began regular physio and strengthening exercises. After a month or two, the pain lessened but didn’t go away. X-rays then revealed his injury. “I was on the verge of having surgery but then I heard about the brace from Össur and decided to try it.” The brace that Vigfússon uses is called the Unloader FIT and is designed to relieve knee pain caused by wear and tear. At a little over 300 grams, it’s the lightest brace available in it’s category and suited for everyday activity. “The operation I would have had may be considered a minor surgical procedure; it is called arthroscopy and consists of cutting off a part of the articular disc. Any form of surgery is nonetheless an invasive procedure and I was quite happy to postpone or avoid it altogether.”

On some days, Vigfússon wears the brace all day. Other times, if his knee is feeling good, or his activity level is low, he may not wear it at all. The brace is designed in such a way that it cannot be seen when worn under clothing. It is also easy to put on and remove. In Vigfússon’s case, the pain in his knee depends on the strain that he places on it. He works in an office as an engineer and is in charge of administrative work at Icelandair Technical Services. “It may seem strange but some of the worst pain I feel is when I sit at my desk all day. It’s like a dull throb,” he says.

Vigfússon has done a lot of running in his time, especially off-road. In Iceland he has run the famous Laugavegur trail several times as well as the Hengill Ultra Trail Run, about 83 kilometers long. He has also run marathons abroad. He travels a lot for work and always looks to make running a part of his trips. “I always try to go running when I’m abroad. I feel that’s the most fun way to get to know new places.”

Has he considered taking up a different activity? “No, it would be kind of awful if I had to stop running. I also don’t think that running is necessarily bad for the knees. While running you certainly feel the repetitive impact of your step but I think a lot of the affect depends on your running technique and the surface you’re running on. If you do it right, I think running can be quite beneficial to both your physical and mental health,” Vigfússon says.

Vigfússon believes that his knee problem is the result of old football injuries, “I think I damaged my knee when I was playing football many years ago and those injuries came back to haunt me about a year ago when I was trying to show my son some old football techniques. I got something like whiplash on my knee and I remember thinking that something had happened there that should not have happened.”

Today, Vigfússon runs 6-to-7 kilometers on paved streets weekly and 20 kilometers off road. He hopes to run for a long time and will shepherd again at Rangárvellir next year. Sheep beware.

To find out more about the Unloader Knee Brace that helped Viktor, click here.