Facts about Knees and Running


Running is a part of our lives. The moment we learn how to walk we pretty much learn how to run as well, and we’ve never stopped running. However some don’t do this often later in life because they believe that running damages the knees. So, here are a few facts about knees and running.

1. Running actually lessens the likelihood of developing arthritis. Studies between runners and non-runners have shown that runners had lesser issues with osteoarthritis. The study discovered that only 20% of runners developed arthritis while 32% of non-runners did. Don’t be confused. That 20% doesn’t mean running will accelerate arthritis. The loss of cartilage, including yon our knees, is really part of the aging process. In fact, running improves the health of the cartilage.

2. Don’t think that supplements will regrow your cartilage. Don’t be under the impression that supplement will do this for your knees. What supplements will do—the most popular one being glucosamine—is to help by protecting the knee from osteoarthritis by lubricating the knee joint.

3. Most often ‘runner’s knee’—an inflammation of the cartilage under the kneecap-- is caused by something else. A significant number of sports medical experts believe that this issue is caused by biomechanical problems such as weak hips and glutes, which cause instability to travel down the knees; weak quadriceps makes it difficult for the kneecap to track properly, while tight hamstrings shifts the impact of running to the knees. To be able to prevent these, strengthening programs are crucial.

4. Weight also affects knees. Every additional pound of body mass means 4 extra pounds of stress on the knee. For a runner, keeping weight in check will lessen incidence of knee arthritis.

Running is a good exercise, so it is important to keep knees in the best possible condition always. Try to run on level ground, as this lessens torque on the knees. Also, if you have history of knee pain—which includes those from accidents or sports—when you run try to switch to forefoot strike versus rearfoot strike. This is because rearfoot strike has more impact on the knees, while forefoot impacts the ankles.