Running and Knee Health

Running and Knee Health

An IFAST member recently passed along the following article from the NY times.  When you combine my affinity for anything knee related with the fact that it alludes to joint health benefits of exercise, I was immediately intrigued.  Here’s the article:

Can Running Actually Help Your Knees?

So you read the title and think, “Cool, this is on par with what we’ve thought for years – that exercise can in fact be preventative to joint degeneration.”  But then, you come across the “No Duh” comment of the day:

So, the best way to ensure that your knees aren’t hurt by running is not to hurt them in the first place.

Oh really?

Now I don’t know about you, but damn near every runner that I’ve ever worked with has been injured in the past.  So all these people are destined to live with knee pain for the rest of their lives?

I guess the biggest issue I had with the article was they outline all the purported benefits of running and theorize on all the reasons that this seems to be true, but that it doesn’t apply to the vast majority of runners!

If there’s one redeeming quality in the article, at least they mentioned that strength in multiple muscle groups is important, including the hip stabilizers, quads, hamstrings, and core.

These are the exact people I wrote my Bulletproof Knees manual for.  Whether you’ve had minor knee pain or surgery, you have to focus on getting the entire kinetic chain back in order.  The hips are quite often the centerpiece of the puzzle – if you can get the mobility and stability back through the hips, a lot of good things happen.

So for those unlucky people out there who have injured themselves (like I did in the past) definitely give Bulletproof Knees a shot.  I feel it’s a great resource to help get you back in the game and performing at a high level.

Stay strong



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  1. Interesting. I just read the book born to run. In that he suggests there is a relationship between running shoes and injury. Basically, the more expensive the shoe the greater the chance of injury. He goes on to say that the foot looks for a stable surface to plant and when it is not there it applies more and more force trying to find solid ground. Interesting idea. As a former track athlete bare foot running was always encouraged. We would do entire workouts barefoot.
    One other observation, anyone can lace up a pair of sneakers and go for a run so that often leads to people self coaching themselves. Not knowing anything about running and making a random program is bad news in my books. i think this could also be a major factor as to why so many people get hurt.

  2. Mike,
    I wrote a real intensive blog article about the very same topic about a month ago, except it is actually useful. I really hope you can take the time to check it out. I spent about 8 hours on it. It’s called “Reducing Injury Rates in Running Populations” and is a two part series.
    Timothy J Ward
    USA DPT Student

  3. Technique is really important in any activity. As they say, hard work is not enough to be a success, you also have to work smart. Our fitness culture focuses more on isolation of muscles and not treating the body as a whole unit.
    Nice observation Jason. It's great that a lot of people are running now more than ever but youre right. A lot do get hurt because of lack or wrong information.

  4. Mike, I think you're right on with this post and with your newsletter article. Recreational runners NEED strength training.
    But I never see strength folks acknowledge how far the technique of running has progressed in the past 10-15 years, specifically with regard to forefoot/midfoot striking instead of heel striking (think of how we run in our bare feet on a hard surface!!!). No research has been done about such running. Personally, in the past my knees would hurt if I ran more than 3x/wk or if I ran too far. Now that I don't heel strike (and now that I run with a cadence of 180 steps/minute), I run middle-distance races and marathons, and I run 6x/wk, all without any pain at all. My old injuries have not come back, nor have I gotten any new injuries.
    Just as genetics AND technique play a role in strength training, they BOTH play a role even in something so "simple and natural" as running.
    Keep up the great work!
    Mark Kurowski

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