Accessibility Tools

The Truth Behind How Running Impacts Your Knees

The Truth Behind How Running Impacts Your Knees

Dr Dan Albright orthopedic doctor in RaleighThe notion that running harms your knees is a widely accepted misconception in the fitness world, but it has been debunked by several medical professionals specializing in joint health. As an orthopedic doctor in Raleigh, I'm here to help you with the most critical questions about the impacts that running has on your knees. This article will clear up the misunderstandings surrounding running and its effects on the body. 

Tips from an Orthopedic Doctor in Raleigh: Running & Your Knees

Running and Arthritis. Running does not cause arthritis or osteoarthritis. This myth stems from the observation that long-time runners often have knee pain. The leading risk factor for arthritis is aging. Studies show no correlation between running and osteoarthritis, the risk of which increases with age and wear and tear on the joints.

Gradual Training. Gradual training is crucial in avoiding knee injuries and joint problems. While some younger athletes can jump into intensive training, most shouldn't. Beginners should avoid pushing too hard and start with walking/running intervals, gradually increasing the pace each week and taking rest days, allowing the body to adapt.

Running When Injured. No study has shown that running alone causes knee damage or arthritis. Running can worsen existing knee damage, but the same goes for any weight-bearing activity, such as basketball. It depends on the individual's knee health, regardless of their weekly running distance. Training is considered safe if there is no prior injury or knee wear.

The Way You Run. Running technique affects knee pain. Footstrike, pronation, and hip stability are essential factors. In addition, modifying stride or using orthotics can help adjust weight distribution when the foot hits the ground.

Rest Days. Rest days are essential in any distance-running training program to let the body recover. Build up mileage slowly, alternating between jogging and cross-training. The routine should vary based on experience and goal, using pain and soreness as a guide. If you're sore after a run, take a rest day.

The Running Surface. Concrete is the harshest surface for joint wear and tear. Running on tracks or asphalt is better. The springier the surface, the more joint-friendly it is, but it may slow runners down. The best artificial surface for joints is rubberized running tracks with cushioning and spring-back.

Strength Training. Running is a demanding physical activity, so a strong back, abs, and legs are important. In addition, building core strength is essential for all runners, reducing the impact on joints and minimizing injury risk. Incorporate strength training 2-3 times a week to improve core strength and handle the impact of running.

The Right Shoes. Get fitted for proper running shoes at a running store. The staff can help match your foot type to the right shoe. Replace shoes every 300-400 miles to maintain cushioning. Consider buying two pairs and rotating daily to extend the shoe lifespan.

Stretching. Stretching gently the day after a run is crucial, as well as before and after every run, regardless of duration. Emphasize stretching the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves after a run. Using ice can also help alleviate soreness and muscle/joint stress.

The idea that running is bad for the knees is a widespread misconception, according to medical professionals. Running does not cause arthritis or osteoarthritis, and studies show no correlation. Running can worsen knee damage, but this is true for other weight-bearing activities. Gradual training and rest days can prevent knee injuries, and modifying running techniques and incorporating strength training can reduce the impact on joints. Running on rubberized tracks with cushioning is the most joint-friendly surface, and proper running shoes and stretching can help alleviate soreness and muscle/joint stress.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Are you a runner experiencing chronic knee pain? It may be time to have that knee examined. Dr. Dan Albright, an orthopedic doctor in Raleigh, can get to the root of the problem. After a thorough examination and possibly diagnostic imaging, Dr. Albright will recommend a treatment to assist you in meeting your goals without injury. Contact our office today at 919-863-6808 and set up an appointment.

  • ABOS
  • AAOS
  • NCOA
  • PractEssentials