Did you know that with each pound of body weight, your knees absorb about one and a half pounds of stress when you walk, and that jumps to nearly four pounds when you run? Your knees absorb a tremendous amount of shock with each step you take.
Because of all that stress, many people think that running for exercise damages your knees, accelerating cartilage deterioration and worsening pre-existing joint conditions. But how does running really affect your knees?
Chris Boone, MD and our highly trained team are experts in the science behind running and its effect on joints. Although running isn’t inherently bad for your knees, runners can suffer knee pain if they aren’t careful.
Read on to learn more about running and knee health, and find out when pain might be a sign that you need to hit the pause button on your training plan.
Running isn’t bad for your knees
Because you strike the ground with so much force when you run, it’s a common misconception that running is bad for your knees. The truth, however, is that running with proper form and supportive shoes is actually great exercise.
In fact, regularly running might decrease your risk of arthritis later in life. The compression that occurs in your knees as you run brings more fluid to the joints to keep them lubricated. At every age, running can benefit your joints and your overall health.
But all this doesn’t mean that runners never suffer knee pain. There are a number of other factors affecting your knees while you run. Core strength and mobility impact your running posture. Having weak hips or thigh muscles may make you more likely to suffer a knee injury.
Being overweight may increase your risk of injury, too, because more weight is placed on your knees with each step. The good news is that starting a running training program is a great way to shed those extra pounds if you’re overweight or obese. With each pound you lose, more strain is taken off your knees and other joints throughout your body.
What to do about runner’s knee
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or runner’s knee, is the most common type of knee injury that runners face. Pain generally appears under, above, or below your kneecap, and at the front of your knee. The pain may get worse when you run on inclined surfaces or stairs.
If you notice knee pain, stop running. It’s tempting to push through the pain, but ignoring an injury only makes it worse. Talk to Dr. Boone about your pain, and get personalized treatment recommendations to help you get back to running with less pain.
Treating PFPS generally begins by working to understand what triggered it. Did you increase your mileage suddenly? Take a step back and slowly build your stamina. Strength training exercises can build core strength, helping you improve your form as you run and reducing your risk of a knee injury.
Dr. Boone may recommend rest and physical therapy in more severe cases. Learning how your running form and strengthening corresponding muscles helps your back, hips, and legs move in alignment as you step.
Running can be a boon to your knees and your overall wellbeing, as long as you practice proper techniques and you don’t ignore early signs of pain. To learn more about knee pain and what you can do to prevent it, book an appointment with Dr. Boone by calling our office or using the online booking tool.