“I don’t run because it will hurt my knees.” “I stopped running because it hurt my knees.” “I run and my knees hurt.” As a trainer, I frequently hear these statements due to the common misperception that running is bad for your knees. As an avid runner for more than 10-years and a trainer, I can say with the utmost confidence that if you run responsibly (e.g. have the appropriate footwear, training plan and effectively manage and rehab aches and pains) running will actually help your knees rather than hurt them.

The knee is the most complex joint in the body and is held together by muscles and ligaments. Articular cartilage and synovial fluid allow for shock absorption and movement free of pain. Over time 85% of us will experience the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA). OA is the normal “wear and tear” of cartilage (Sherwood, 2001). Generally symptoms include aches, pain, stiffness and swelling. The cause of OA is unknown however, it is hypothesized that age, weight, overtraining and having a biomechanical pre-disposition can lead to OA. Running can actually benefit the knee and delay the onset of OA.

Weight-bearing exercise promotes bone growth. Running, a weight-bearing exercise, allows the cartilage in the knee to compress and expand and as a result become stronger. Being overweight can place excess stress on the joints. A 10lb weight gain will place an additional 45lbs of pressure on the knee ( Running can help to maintain a healthy body weight and thereby decrease the amount of pressure placed on the knee. It is only when you have incorrect footwear, lack appropriate rest and recovery, and fail to acknowledge and rehab aches and pains that the knee becomes prone to injury.

Run on!

Sarah Anderson