the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Finn Seeley '25
While it is a commonly held belief that running is bad for your knees, this turns out to be a misconception. Done correctly, running can actually improve the health inside your knees. Things like overuse and poor form while running can have negative effects on your joints, and the consequences that come from these things often lead people to the conclusion that the action of running is itself detrimental to your knees. This can’t be farther from the truth as running has been scientifically proven to strengthen the cartilage in your knees, decrease tibial and femoral inflammation, and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
You may be wondering why your knees hurt during or after your runs. This pain can be attributed to multiple factors. The first possibility is that you have a pre-existing condition that flares up with the use of your knee. In these cases, it is really easy to blame running for the hurt that is felt in the knee, but it is not the actual cause of the discomfort. The second potential source of pain in your knee that you associate with running could be caused by a bad running form, surface, or shoe. Some people have a tendency to hit the ground heel first which can lead to a lot of inflammation near your patella. Properly fitted shoes are one key to healthy knees. The sole of the shoe must cater towards the arch of your foot or the shoe could be unhealthy on your knees. Lastly, uneven surfaces can be really impactful on your knees and you are much better off sticking to flat surfaces like a paved road.
In addition to good form, running shoes, and running surfaces, things like warming up slowly and running cadence matter as well. A gradual warm-up prior to running is one thing to emphasize before going for a run. The tendons and ligaments in your knees need to be stretched and loose to reduce the pain you may feel later on. The last thing to pay attention to while running is your cadence. A running cadence is the rate of strides that you take. You do not want this number to fluctuate or your knees may not be used to the speed that you are going. Instead, it is ideal to have a consistent rate of strides that you take to preserve the health of your knees.
In conclusion, the statement that running is bad for your knees is actually a myth tied to things like pre-existing conditions, poor form, bad equipment, running on uneven surfaces, the lack of a warm-up, or an inconsistent cadence. By keeping all the things listed above in mind, you can turn the action of running from a negative to an extremely healthy part of your day. Rather than causing pain, it can lead to a better lifestyle and increased strength in your knees.