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Five Tips for Running with Bad Knees

Runners Knee - how to run with knee painRunners Knee - how to run with knee pain

How to run wth bad knees, your questions answered

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise worldwide. It’s great for your heart, helps with weight control, and releases those feel-good endorphins we all crave. But, what happens when you love to run, yet your knees beg to differ? Having knee issues can be a real damper on your fitness routine, but fear not!

There are strategies you can employ to keep hitting the pavement (or the trail, or the treadmill) without causing further harm. So, for those of us who believe that a day without running is like a day without sunshine, here are five fun, friendly, but oh-so-factual tips for running with bad knees.

Always remember though, it is important that you get professional medical advice from your GP a physio or your pharmacy, to make sure that you are not causing further damage.

Be a Shoe-in For Success

Choosing the right running shoe is like picking a life partner—it’s a decision that can make or break your happiness. If your knees are giving you grief, your shoes might be part of the problem. Worn-out or poorly fitting shoes won’t provide the support and cushioning your knees need to absorb the impact of your foot hitting the ground.

Visit a specialised running store where the staff can analyse your gait and recommend shoes that offer the right blend of stability, cushioning, and arch support for your particular foot type. And remember, even the best shoes don’t last forever. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every 300-500 miles, or sooner if you start to notice discomfort.

Trail running can lead to knee injuries because of uneven ground

Let’s Get Physical (Therapy)

If you’re dealing with knee pain, a physical therapist can be your new best friend. They’ll assess your running form, identify any biomechanical issues that might be contributing to your knee pain, and prescribe specific strengthening and flexibility exercises to address those problems.

For example, weak hips or tight hamstrings can place extra stress on your knees when you run. By strengthening these areas, you can reduce knee pain and also prevent further injuries. So, get ready to be best buddies with your foam roller and resistance bands—they’re about to become your secret weapons in the fight against knee pain!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It’s a tortoise-and-hare scenario when it comes to running with knee issues. While it’s natural to want to push yourself, doing too much too soon can exacerbate knee pain. Instead, adopt a slow and steady approach to increase your mileage and intensity.

Start with a combination of running and walking, gradually increasing the running portions as your knees become stronger and more resilient. Listen to your body (especially your knees), and if you notice an increase in pain, take it as a sign to back off a little. Remember, it’s not about being the fastest; it’s about being the smartest runner!

Mix it Up

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also a key ingredient in a knee-friendly running regimen. Incorporating different forms of exercise into your routine can help to strengthen your muscles, improve your running form, and give your knees a break.

Cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or using the elliptical machine can help maintain your cardiovascular fitness while placing less stress on your knees. Strength-training exercises, particularly those targeting your core, hips, and legs, can improve your running mechanics and help to prevent further knee problems. So, don’t be shy about flirting with other forms of exercise—it’s a case where being a little unfaithful to running can actually help your relationship in the long run!

Embrace the Chill

After your run, show your knees some love with a little cold therapy. Applying ice to your knees can help to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Wrap a bag of frozen peas or a sports ice pack with fabric like a tea towel and hold it over your knee for 15 minutes. Have a break from it for another 15 minutes and then apply it again. Repeat this 4 times.

I bought this handy and durable knee ice pack from Amazon for £17.99 (currently 10% off as as well). It is good to have around the house, especially iven I have three kids who are sports mad and regularly getting bumps and bruises.

Long-term knee pain and injuries does not necessarily mean that it is the end of the running road for you and we hope that these tips help. That being said, always get professional medical advice from your GP, a physio or a pharmacy.

Andy Barr
the authorAndy Barr
Editorial Lead
Andy was late arriving into the world of fitness, running and training. He did not really take up regular gym going until he was in his late 30's. He lost over 7 stone in weight since starting and completed an olympic length triathlon in June 2018. He enjoys playing football, boxing and outdoor running.

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