How many times have you heard people say “Running is bad for your knees”? Maybe you’ve also noticed that most of the people that say this are sedentary, spending most of their life on the sofa, probably getting bad knees in the process!
Whilst there is a risk of doing damage to your knees if you don’t run with good running form, it’s generally proven that running is great for your knees and other leg bones.
If you’ve been following my previous emails, you’ll know that I fell off a ladder and needed knee surgery for a torn meniscus. The surgeon had a look around at the rest of the knee while he was in there in case there was anything else that needed doing. He found nothing and said “The remainder of his knee was in pristine condition”. Not bad for a person in V45-50 age group that has been running fast (and mountain biking) since he was seven!
Regular running builds up muscle strength in the legs. The bones supporting those muscles respond by growing and becoming denser to support the extra muscle. If you include speed sessions appropriate to your ability, that growth will happen more quickly than if you just do easy long runs all the time.
What if your running form isn’t great?
If you bounce along the road or trail, thumping down with each step, this puts a lot of extra stress on the knees and legs. Instead, work on running smoothly and softly. Treat running like a controlled fall – you aren’t trying to jump off the ground, but are just taking another step to stop yourself falling over.