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Will Running Ruin My Knees?

A lot of people skip running as a form of cardio because they are worried it will ruin their knees later in life. Running with an injury (or inflaming a previous injury) can definitely lead to further injuries (ITB Syndrome, runners knee or even arthritis) but there are ways to keep those knees safe...

Abnormal joint stress can increase your risk for arthritis and can be caused by running on an injured joint, poor biomechanics, or muscle weakness due to inadequate cross-training. However, when done with care, running is a fabulous cardio activity and will still keep your knees in good shape, so use these tips for knee protection on your future jogs:

  • Always warm-up and cool-down (brisk walking and stretching work great) to prepare your body for the physiological (and psychological) effects of the run.
  • Make sure you've got good sneakers. Switch them out frequently (350-550 miles) to make sure your lower body is getting the support you need.
  • Consider getting custom orthotics to reduce stress and excessive pronation.
  • There's more, so

  • Supplement running with exercises that will strengthen and stabilize the muscles and tissues that stabilize the knee such as the leg press and leg extension machines.
  • If you have pain, stop running and get it looked at. Ignoring the early warning signs of a small problem, such as mild or fleeting pain and stiffness, can lead to a much larger problem down the road.
  • If you already have bad knees or a prior knee injury, think about switching to a low impact activity, like swimming.
  • Maybe you have a family history of knee problems and you're worried, then think about running on softer surfaces (like the treadmill or track) to lessen the shock on your joints.
  • If you're going to be running for hours (you marathon woman, you), it is important to avoid overuse injuries so be sure to be in tune with your body (stopping when needed) and don't do it everyday to allow for muscle recuperation time.
Join The Conversation
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 10 years
Helpful article.
City-Love City-Love 10 years
thanks for the article
Fitness Fitness 10 years
Hey mrs favre... I did a post on this recently, so check it out here.
SU3 SU3 10 years
I change my sneakers probably every 6-7 months. I have a friend who buys two of the same sneakers each time and alternates them every other day. Whatever works!
mrs-favre mrs-favre 10 years
What is the best cardio workout if your knees are already shot? I really need to lose fat but man the knees are painful
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
10-year-old shoes? i wish you had posted a photo of them! i move on to new runing shoes every 6 months or so (i don't clock that many miles a week) and when i get new ones, i can always tell the difference. Please take care of yourself and get new shoes every 300 miles, minimum.)i'd love to know what brand held up that long!) ;)
the-clam the-clam 10 years
Renees3, you might try NewBalance running shoes. They're well made shoes for runners who need extra toe room and arch support.
ceeceesun ceeceesun 10 years
Put me on a treadmill in front of a TV and I am one happy runner...lovelovelove running!
BethS BethS 10 years
I was just talking to a friend who is a marathon-er the other day. She told me that the surface you run on makes a huge difference on your knees. She told me to run on the street instead of the sidewalk, but the best is to run on wet sand or dirt, it cushions the impact...
Renees3 Renees3 10 years
I've always Wished i could be a runner. My dad is a runner (and drummer and major yoga dude) so he was always trying to get me to do it with him. Unfortunately I have really bad ankles (had srugery 1.5 years ago) and when I run, somehow I do this thing when I try to step really lightly to prevent my ankles from hurting but then my hips and rest of my body end up hurting more. It sucks. But I still try! Any recomendations for good shoes with a wide toe area but with good ankle/arch support?? :-)
llendril llendril 10 years
i had been using the same running shoes since i was a sophomore in high school running cross country (ten years ago!) a few weeks ago, i finally went and bought myself another pair. the difference is AMAZING. i'm surprised that i didn't injure myself with those old shoes. but i have definitely learned my lesson.
the-clam the-clam 10 years
Nothing burns fat for me like running. I used to have chronic problems with swelling in my knees. Rest days, ice and lunges helped a lot. They're much better now as long as I don't overdo it.
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