Is Running Bad for Your Knees?
Although I’ve tried running in the past, I’ve never experienced the “runner’s high” and have maintained the excuse that I don’t like to run because it’s bad for my knees and it’ll cause arthritis.
However, running itself will not cause the arthritis. Arthritis is genetic. If you already have arthritis, and you have bone to bone contact and no cartilage in your knee, running will make it worse. If you’re running and the pain becomes such that it alters the way you run, then you’re probably doing more harm to your knees and should go see your doctor.
It’s also known that heavier people are at higher risk for arthritis. For every pound of weight a person carries – whether it’s in their body or they put it on in a backpack – they have four pounds on the knee when running. In other words, if you weigh 100 pounds, there are 400 pounds of force on the knee with each foot strike.
We know that weight-bearing exercise, including running, actually helps prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Repetitive weight bearing and motion are good for the joints, and running essentially does that. The compressive motion helps bring more fluid in your knees and keeps them moving.
There are many other factors that go into how running can affect your knees such as weight, body structure, shoe selection, and technique. So if you’re starting a running program, you may want to start with a walking program first, then slowly progress to an easy running program paying attention to these other factors.
In addition to starting slowly, you may also want to combine running with bicycling or some other cross training. Your knees will thank you for it.