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March 11, 2022 4 min read

Many people begin new fitness routines as we move into the new year. Maybe you're wondering if running will hurt your knees if you start running. It is actually beneficial to your knees and other joints to perform this cardiovascular exercise. The key to preserving your knees is to avoid putting more pressure on them than they can handle.

The problem with running is not that it's terrible for your knees, but that your knees can't handle the stress placed on them by the activity. Today, it is believed that running increases both bone and muscle strength, which is beneficial to joint health. Several joints in the body are used during running, including the hip, knee, and ankle.

In your body, the knee is the joint where your thigh bone (femur) connects to your kneecap (patella), your shinbone (tibia), and the small bone running alongside it (fibula). Performing muscle-strengthening exercises often will allow your joints to stay strong because it will build the muscles in and around your joints. Your joints will be less stressed and heavier because more support is provided to your connecting bones.

When I run, I get knee pains. Why?

Why does running sometimes cause knee pain and injuries if it has no harmful effects on the knees? High-impact sports such as running involve violent movements as you strike the ground with your feet. It puts tremendous stress on your knees, particularly jarring due to the impact.

The kneecap may become pressed against your thighbone during or after a run, resulting in knee pain. There may be intermittent discomfort at the front of your knee, but it is often hard to pinpoint the exact location.

Wear and tear on your joints are inevitable throughout life. Keeping your joints in good shape requires regular physical activity. Still, you need to strike a balance between high-impact exercise and low-impact activity.

In the end, your running style, frequency, and distance, as well as injury history, will determine how running impacts your joints.

Running and its long-term effects

It is common for joints to wear over time, resulting in joint problems such as pain, stiffness, joint replacement surgeries, and osteoarthritis in later life. The likelihood of joint complaints is not increased by high-impact activities like running.

Numerous studies have failed to find a connection between running and osteoarthritis - joint cartilage wears down. Researchers have not been able to differentiate whether prior injuries or high-volume or high-intensity running play a role in causing osteoarthritis when they exhibit an association between the two.

In contrast, another study revealed that running does not affect cartilage volume or thickness but promotes cartilage nutrition.

What can runners do to avoid joint damage?

You can follow specific steps to keep your knees supported when running to reduce the risk of injury.

Step 1: Get your running shoes

Investing in supportive running shoes is the first step: Make sure you are wearing shoes that provide cushioning and stability and are appropriate for the surface you will be running on.

Your footwear needs to fit your feet correctly in shoe width, cushion level, and arch support. You can significantly lower your chances of injury while running by choosing the right shoes. Have your shoes fit before you buy them if possible.

Step 2: Getting stretched

Knee injuries can be prevented by stretching before and after running. You are more likely to run with the poor form if you have tight muscles, and your joints may not be supported as well by your muscles. After a run, you should stretch your muscles while still warm so your joints aren't stressed.

Step 3: Running form

Running with good form can reduce the impact placed on your knees significantly. You should maintain a good posture, look ahead, keep your elbows at 90° angles, and land on your mid-foot rather than your heel.

Step 4: Proper rest and gradual increases

After each run, allow your body to fully recover. Make sure you have enough rest days and avoid abrupt increases in mileage.

Don't ramp up your running routine too quickly if you have decided to embark on a new running program this year. Start with plenty of rest days and gradually increase your running distance. Exercises with high impact require time for your body, including your knees.

Beginners are not the only ones who can use this advice. The 10% rule states that runners should increase their weekly mileage by a maximum of 10% each week.

Step 5: Using softer surfaces

Although running exerts an incredible amount of force through your knees, running on softer surfaces, like grass or woodchips, as opposed to hard surfaces, such as cement, can reduce the amount of impact.

Step 6: Varying your fitness routine

You should combine your running with lower impact sports to maintain fitness without causing too much damage to your joints. Cycling, swimming, and rowing are low-impact sports that help maintain fitness without damaging the joints.

When should I avoid running?

According to experts, runners who have suffered an injury within the past year are more likely to suffer from knee problems or running-related injuries. Attempting to run before your knees have fully healed can harm your knees.

Following a run, listen to your body if you experience knee pain or stiffness. Once the pain has subsided, take the time to rest your joints. A physiotherapist may be referred to you by your doctor if your knee still causes discomfort after a couple of rest days.

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