Does Running Really Cause Long Term Knee Damage?

kneeMost people run to be healthy.  Some are trying to lose weight, some are preparing for a marathon, and some are just trying to have a little fun.  No matter which of these categories you fall into, however, someone has no doubt told you that you are going to destroy your knees, that you won’t be able to walk when you get older, or any other leg-related warning.  The truth is that there are sometimes reasons to worry, but if you know what you are doing you can save yourself from years of knee pain fairly easily.

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Causes Of Knee Pain

More often than not, we are talking about “runner’s knee” when someone mentions knee pain.  It is a common belief that this can be a lifelong problem, although it rarely is.  While it is a temporary annoyance, once you fix the cause you can easily overcome it.

Runner’s knee is caused by overuse, along with a muscle imbalance.  First, running too far on a regular basis, when your body is not prepared, is going to cause you problems.  Once you build up the endurance, running 20 miles a day can really improve your health, but your joints might not be able to handle it.  In a similar way, muscle imbalances are just as problematic.  Without strong hips and quadriceps, in both legs, your body will also place unnecessary stress on your knees.

Preventing Knee Pain

Knee pain does not come from running, it comes from running poorly.  The first thing to look at is your technique.  Methods like POSE and Evolution can help give you a better idea of the proper technique.  In fact, by utilizing a proper running system you will be able to run farther, faster, and see your true potential.  It turns out, you DO have to learn how to run after all.

The second thing that can create a problem is your daily routine.  Like I said, running does not inherently cause the problem, but pushing your knees past their breaking point will.  Just because you are training for a marathon does not mean that you have to run 23.2 every day to prepare for it.

Is It Worth The Risk?

The risk of knee pain is there, but the benefits that you see from running make it almost not worth considering.  Running decreases your mortality rate by 39% and you will have greater mobility for much longer in life.

Recent research has found that there is a chance that running can actually increase the health of your joints, rather than harming them.  The fluid in your knee is pressed out when your weight is placed on it, but it is sucked back in when the weight is taken off.  This process cleans out the joint and can keep them healthier than ever.

The only risk that you take is the possibility of hairline fractures if you have weak bones.  Without proper bone density your body will begin to break down on its own, but if they are especially weak you can create a hairline fracture that will compound over time.  Calcium and other supplements will eliminate this risk, though.

In the end, there is not much of a risk for your knees.  It will take some practice, but running properly will keep your knees healthy and put those naysayers to shame.  If you do start to feel pain, take a look at your technique and routine, but I’m willing to bet that you won’t have any problems at all.

This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by James S., a guest author

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