Running is bad for your knees…

Knee injury

Today I was just returning from a run, feeling good and accomplished after logging a nice 8 mile “zone 2” run as I continue to adapt to the new training and my new covenant 80/20. (I will write more about that in many future posts. It was then when I ran into another resident in the complex where I live who was just getting ready to head out to do some paddle boarding. In case you don’t know what that is, it involves a long surf board like float that you propel through waters while standing with a single, large oar. I have read about it and heard it was an amazing workout and this seemed like a great opportunity to ask someone who does it what it’s like, so I did just that. This turned out to be a great conversation with a pretty nice guy. We talked about the weather and how awesome it was to be outdoors in California, particularly with all of the snow and cold back east right now. We discussed the paddle boarding and eventually we got around to what I was doing outside today on this gorgeous Sunday. I told him I had just returned from a run and then, with pursed lips and a shaking head his words were the same I have heard many, many times. “I would love to run but it kills my knees” …

My response was to let him know if he had no known knee injury that isn’t necessarily true. There are many contributing factors to knee pain, especially among runners but if you take a closer look its not the running that normally causes knee issues its a series of mitigating factors that surround running.

I am by no means an expert but I did do a lot of research prior to starting running eight years or so ago when I made the decision to start. I scanned medical journals and running magazines looking for evidence for or against running and how it would affect my knees. This was because after I finally made the decision to begin running my family physician, not a big athlete, warned that it could cause issue with my knees. This was my first experience with the two types of doctors in this world, those that run AND those that don’t. A ‘running” doctor usually encourages activity and assures most that at the right weight, if you pay attention to the length of workouts, that running is not bad for knees and in many cases can help them.

So before you dedicate yourself to a life of cycling and cross-fit read on.

There is a ton of information out there, but the most honest accounts say that running at the least cannot hurt your knees and, in some cases, may actually help them last longer than not running. The exceptions are running when you are carrying around too much weight. This reveals a chicken or egg question around the fact that one of the reasons we run is to lose weight and if we have to lose weight to run then it doesn’t make much sense to start. The best call is to use moderation and if you have a lot of weight to carry around walk first and as your weight levels off then run more and more. I have yet to see this not work and I have trained and trained with hundreds of runners. Take your time and let your body get used to the work- including your knees.

When I decided to run my first attempt was a glorious half mile (felt like a hundred) but that’s what my frame would allow at the time and week by week and month by month as I listened to my body and I lost a bit more weight with the activity my mileage increased.

Yours will too, I promise!

Take a peak at this article, it is the most recent and probably the quickest read from Men’s Health .I have had my share of running induced ailment but my knees are holding up just fine. So at the end of the day if you have worries about your knees listen to the following:

  1. A physician that understands running
  2. Your body

Best of luck and I’ll see you out there.


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