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  • Writer's pictureTaruna Rijhwani

Is Running “Bad” for my Knees?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

A question I get asked frequently especially from people who are in pain is that Is Running helpful or hurtful for my knees or even for my back? And like most things, the answer is not a straightforward “yes” or “no”. There is a lot more to understand & we shall dive into details.

Running as all we know is an impactful activity for our joints especially for our weight bearing joints like knees, ankles & feet and your spine. If any of these joints are not functioning optimally, there is a good chance that Running will surface that pain sooner than you would have otherwise noticed it.

Now is that a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing? Typically, experiencing any type of pain is never a good thing. But once you understand what pain really is, it may change your opinion about it. Pain is a sensation or signal if you will that your nervous system sends to alert you of any impending damage. Now how bad the issue is directly relates to how intense your pain will be. And mind you, our bodies wait for a little bit of stress to accrue even before they send a pain signal. So, if you think about it, the pain is really your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, look into it. More like a “Check Engine Light” in your car.

So now do you consider the Check Engine Light an annoyance or feel thankful that it alerted you of a potential car breakdown. If we are so sensitive about our cars that we change every few years, why aren’t we about our bodies that we have only one for this lifetime.

Dialing back to the resurfacing of pain with running. The point being if you are experiencing pain at any point either with running or any other activity, that’s your body’s signal of an issue. Do not ignore it or just mask it with pain killers. Try to figure out what is wrong?

Now if your joints are healthy, you have started your running program gradually, you wear the right shoes & mix up your routine with regular strength training exercises in addition to running, there is absolutely no reason that running would either cause you pain or be a source of distress for your joints. Your joints are designed to handle that much amount of impact if taken care of the right way.

The reason that most people have aching knees, feet or back with running is that their joints are probably not as healthy as they should be & running just surfaced their pain faster than usual. And like everything else, it is very easy to blame running, aging or any other external factors we can blame for our problems.

Infact, running is a great cardiovascular exercise to help build your endurance & stay active. It is not an expensive endeavor to get into that require huge membership fees or costly gear. All you need is a good pair of running shoes & you are all set.

Not a Runner?

If you are reading this article & thinking “I am not a runner, never was, never will be. It’s just not for me”

That’s fine too. Every individual enjoys a different activity or sport to stay active & take your pick. If you are more of a walker & rather take long walks to get your exercise dose in, then by all means, go for it!

My point is that it is very easy to blame the sporting activity as a cause of your symptoms & in some cases, it truly is. When you overdo an activity, not taking enough rest days in between, playing contact sports etc does put you at a risk of injury but that is a different topic for another time.

So, if I have to sum up this article, I would say, Running could easily reproduce your pain in your spine, knees, ankles & feet if your joints are not 100% ready for it but if taken all the right strategies, it is a great exercise to stay active!

Infact, I frequently insist that my patients test running before we “graduate” them from our physical therapy program as it is almost a test that complete healing has taken place & your joints are ready to hit the road. If you can run a certain distance without bringing on your symptoms (that you once had), that is quite an effective test to tell us that your joints are now ready for that load!

Want to learn more?

If you or someone you know experiences this very familiar pain with running or during any other activity, visit our Website to talk to your Specialist today or you can even schedule a Free Discovery Session to learn more specifically about your problem and ways in which we can probably help.

We also know not everyone is ready to commit to regular physical therapy appointments, and that’s why we offer our Free Information Guide! This Guide is for people in our community who want really valuable, expert information about their Knee problems. We know it’s confusing out there with all of the information floating around on Google and Facebook, and this is a valuable first step towards getting some real answers for your problem.

PS – If you found this information helpful, please share this with a friend or on your Facebook feed.

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