Running’s Impact on Knees

Knee damage as a result to running can be compared to being burned as a result to touching fire; it is inevitable. Although there are determining factors such as the type of surface or the structure of your lower body, running can still cause knee damage. In fact, this particular injury is so common it has been labeled, “runner’s knee”, and is medically known as patella-femoral pain. This happens when the patella (kneecap) irritates the femoral groove, in which it rests on the thighbone. Patella-femoral pain is most common in older adults and women, especially if you have high arches, which provide less cushion. Also, flat feet or knees that turn in or out excessively can pull the patella sideways. But do not let this discourage you from running, there are ways you can cause less damage and procedures you can have done to recover quickly.

Surfaces & Shock Levels


This is the most damaging surface because of how hard it is. It causes more shock to your lower body joints. So, avoid running or training on concrete when possible.


Grass seems to cause little discomfort with its soft surface, but it can be harmful too. According to a study in Human Movement Science, the shock levels are actually twenty-five percent higher than running on asphalt.


This is the best type of surface to run on because the shock levels are the lowest compared to others, but even asphalt can cause some type of strain on your body.

Tips for Running & Dealing with Knee Pain

Stretch before you run
You should stretch before any workout or activity. It lowers the risk of injury and warms up your muscles so they aren’t as sore afterwards. Here are three warm-ups that can help with your knees.

1. Standing Quad
This stretch is perfect when it becomes difficult to bend your knees.
How to:
Stand on one leg while pulling the other ankle close to your glutes.

2. Standing Calf
If your calves are tight, it may affect your knees due to the inward movement
How to:
Place both feet on the curb, step, or a calf machine and drop both heels at the same time. (Make sure to hold onto something)

3. Supine Hamstring
Strengthening your hamstring will help your knees sustain impact.
How to:
Lie on your back in front of a doorway with your hips in line with the entryway. Keeping your left leg straight out in front of you, place your straight right leg up on door jam, keeping a small bend in your right knee. (Make sure your spine is stable)

Give Yourself Time to Heal

As soon as you feel pain, cut back on your mileage and slowly increase the hill work within your routine, using smaller strides. According to research in Current Sports Medicine Reports, the recovery and rehabilitation of these injuries clearly play a role in the subsequent risk of new running injuries. Therefore, if your pain persists do not continue your regular routine until the pain is gone, so you don’t cause more injury.

Written By: Candace Mitchell

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