Is Running Bad For Your Knees? Here Are The Facts
Even though running offers many health benefits, there are also some negatives to running. This includes stress on the joints and knees. But is running really that bad for your knees and joints?
Generally, running is not bad for your knees. However, if you run or have been running with incorrect form, it can end up putting more pressure on the knees and joints. This can then result in pain, overuse, and injury.
Let’s discuss if running is bad for your knees and joints. And if running on concrete is actually that bad for you. So, keep reading to learn more.
Is Running Bad For Your Joints?
Many people think that running is bad for your joints and bones. However, the benefits running provides simply outweigh the risk of joint issues. However, that doesn’t mean that if you start running you won’t have any joint issues or pain.
Generally, running is only bad for your joints if you are running with poor technique or running too much for the body to handle.
Joint pain is mostly associated with overuse injuries, where the individual has been increasing the volume or intensity too quickly and not slowly increasing the load over time. Alternatively, it can also be caused by a lack of recovery between workouts or a lack of mobility exercises.
For others, poor running form is the main culprit. Over striding, pronation, and poor mobility can all affect your gait. That means incorrect running technique can result in more stress on the bones, ligaments, and joints.
Does Running Damage Knees?
Generally, running is not bad for your knees. However, poor form and overuse are the main cause of knee problems during and after running.
More than 60% of knee injuries from running are caused by overuse and poor technique. While the other 40% is caused by running surface, bad mobility, and alignment issues.
That doesn’t mean running is all that bad for your joints and knees. Running regularly can help keep your joints lubricated. IT can also help to stimulate the body to build new cartilage.
Even though your knees absorb a lot of force when running, if you have the correct shoes with adequate cushioning it can help to reduce the force through the knees. Also if you are running with good form (lack of heel strike or over striding) the forces will be distributed around the body more evenly. Rather than loading the knees with all the force with every stride.
Knee pain can also arise from other causes like Iliotibial band syndrome and Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Iliotibial band syndrome usually originates on the side of the knee and can migrate towards the upper thigh to the hip. The tendon-like structure helps with hip rotation and knee stabilization. So, if this area gets overly fatigued or tight it can result in knee pain when running. However, in most cases, it can be fixed by moderate physical therapy once or twice per week. Alternatively adjusting your gait and running technique can help to cure ITBS.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or runner’s knee is a condition that affects the front of the knee. This affects how the knee cap glides on top of the knee. When the kneecap comes out of alignment it can cause pain and discomfort in and around the knee. Generally, this type of injury is related to a weakness in the quads and hamstrings. Luckily this type of injury rarely requires surgery. However, moderate physical therapy and orthotic inserts may be needed to help the knee recover properly.
Does Running On Concrete Damage Your Knees?
Running on concrete has been said to damage your knees. However, this is not entirely correct. Even though concrete is one of the least forgiving surfaces and doesn’t provide any absorption benefits, it can actually provide a more stable ground to run on. Thus, preventing stress on the knee as uneven terrain would.
However, if you are a high mileage runner or overweight. Too much running on concrete can lead to more stress on the knee.
If you are constantly dealing with knee injuries with running, softer surfaces should be used. Running on grass or gravel roads can help reduce some of the force onto the knee. This can help reduce the shock traveling through a runner’s knees, hips, lower back, and feet, which can reduce the chance of injuries.
If you are a high mileage runner it is important to vary the terrain you run on. That means utilizing concrete, grass, trails, and gravel roads. That way you can reduce the overall stress on the knee as well as use some uneven terrain in your training to help strengthen the lower leg muscles and knees.
It is important that you also choose the correct running shoes. Shoes that suit your gait and provide adequate cushioning are one way to prevent knee pain. However, if you pick the wrong shoes it can aggravate the knee and other parts of the body. So, it is important to have someone check your gait before purchasing a pair of shoes.
Is Running Bad For Your Knees – Final Words
Running is only bad for your knees if you are overtraining, wearing the incorrect shoes, or have a poor running gait. Otherwise running is relatively safe for your joints and knees.
If you are constantly dealing with knee issues, look over your training and see if you are increasing the load on your body too quickly. Alternatively, book in for a gait assessment to check your running technique.
If all else fails, you may need to strengthen the lower legs, uppers legs, hips, and glutes. That way it will help reduce some of the stress on the knees when running. If you are unsure what muscles are weak, book an appointment with a physical therapist.