Is running bad for my knees?

“Is running bad for my knees?”

I often get asked this question by patients who are attempting to add running into their weight loss regime but who are being told by others, almost always non-runners, that they are putting themselves at risk for a future of damaged and arthritic knees. This has to be the most common misconception about running within the general public. It is a great example of something once claimed, but not researched, becoming a fact which we cannot seem to ever escape.

There are a number of reasons a person who previously did not run could develop knee pain after starting. The purpose of this blog post is to show that arthritis is not one of them. If we take a person who previously had no knee pain or medically diagnosed bone disorders and have them start running they may develop pain first and foremost from poor running technique.  If you think about it, running is one of the few athletic activities which we feel we can take on without some kind of training or coaching. We take swim lessons, surfing lessons, and skiing lessons but very few of us ever take running lessons. I believe a great deal of the discomfort people experience when they first start to run could be avoided by taking advantage of a good coach or running club for beginners advice. Next time you run, take a look at the other runners around you. You will see people leaving forward, leaning backward, and even to the side. Often one shoulder is hiked up higher or the foot kicks out to the side each time it comes back. All these technique issues can lead to knee discomfort but the activity of running itself does not.

Additionally, much of the discomfort people mention in their knees is actually muscular soreness radiating in from a different area. Their tight IT Band could be pulling on its attachment and creating pressure in the knee. Their tight quads maybe pull the kneecap to the side when they run creating patello-femoral syndrome.  Maybe they just bought minimalist shoes and are running a few miles on them without ever building up to the switch from normal running shoes. The bottom line is that there are a number of reasons a person’s knee might hurt while learning how to run, almost all are correctable through a good coach, and rarely if ever is the cause the osteoarthritis your non-runner friend/family swore you would have because you started running in your 40s or 50s.

Train smart, run well, and read this NY Times blog about this subject and the study that shoes running does not cause knee arthritis. It was the inspiration for this post.

Learn how Ryan incorporates Chinese philosophy into his life

Watch this short video about how Ryan incorporates the idea of balance into his life. No matter what activities we are passion are passionate about, bringing balance to our work and our play, is a necessary component of a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. Marinwood Community Acupuncture can bring your body back to the level of health you desire so that you can return to those activities that bring you happiness and peace of mind.