• This is all so true. We like to be afraid of what we haven’t tried. I somehow thought I would end up in the hospital if I ran!

    With Amber and Jeff’s support and encouragement at H3 I started running/walking in a way I never dreamed I could do at 66. In just these few months I am healthier, happier and more fit than I have been in 40 years. I’m not afraid of the bogy man anymore.

    Live is so good.

    From kappy
    April 1, 2011

Friday Fitness Debate: Running Fear of Wear and Tear

triathlonIt seems as though there has been this universal idea that running is bad for our knees.  All of these assumptions that if you’re pounding tons of miles or begin a moderate running program later in life, you’ll only intensify degeneration of your knee joints and put yourself on a steady path to osteoarthritis. With 5K season in full force, I say leave your concerns at the door and feel free to pound the payment.

After watching Mark, Sallie, and Chad from A&E’s Heavy competing in races, did you ever question how much stress they were putting on their knees while running? Did it appear like a good idea for Mark to go 13.1 miles in his home town of Athens, Georgia?

jeff and sallieWhere you inspired to start training yourself?  If so, there is no reason for you not to attempt running yourself.

Here are the facts when it comes to running:

  • Joints were made for movement; running is healthy for our knees

In a recent ACSM journal study, Researchers reviewed data from 28 studies that analyzed the association between physical activity and knee osteoarthritis and came to this surprising conclusion: “Physical activity may not have a detrimental effect on the knee joint but may be beneficial to joint health.”

  • If you run into your 50s, 60s, or 70s there is NO proven increase risk to damaging the knees.

Researcher and Epidemiologist at Boston University, David Felson describes how Swedish researchers took one group of people at risk of osteoarthritis and had them engage in exercise, including jogging. The other group didn’t exercise. After imaging the joints of the participants in both study groups, they found the cartilage actually appeared to improve in those participants who were running.

  • Every time a runner strikes the ground he/she applies 8 times their body weight to the joints

Truth is for a 150-pound runner that is a force of about 1200 pounds for each stride! This has to affect the joint right? Not to the point where you shouldn’t run. In one long-term study of about 1200 residents of the town of Framingham, Mass., researchers looked for a correlation between arthritis and exercise: “People who were physically active were no more likely to develop symptoms of arthritis or x-ray evidence of arthritis than people who were sedentary,”

  • If you don’t exercise you put your knees at greater risk of injury because muscles around them become weaker.

When running increases the risk of knee damage:

  • Individual has suffered a previous knee injury, especially surgical related (primary predictor)
  • Routinely running really fast – 5 or 6 mile pace – or running a marathon (moderation)
  • Intensity of running regimen is too high for current BMI (Intensity is the factor that effects overweight individuals – listening to your body and not overdoing running workouts)

Where to start:  

  • Start with walking and increase running as overall fitness level increases
  • Set small goals each week in one dimension: distance, duration, or pace
  • Work in a natural progression 5K to 10K to Half Marathon
  • Practice “Pose Running technique” – striking on the forefoot not rolling from the heal
  • Add one or two running session per week, then three, then four
  • Pick your pace and gradually build based off progress with stamina. It’s better to walk before you get tired and have a target run-walk ratio. See Below:

Pick the Pace that’s right for you. (Adapt from Jeff Galloway’s magic mile)

8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 35 seconds
9 min/mi— 4 min run-1 min walk
10 min/mi—-3:1
11 min/mi—2:30-1
12 min/mi—-2:1
13 min/mi—-1:1
14 min/mi—30 sec run/30 sec walk
15 min/mi—30 sec/45 sec
16 min/mi—30 sec/60 sec

With everything said, I hope you have confidence now to go out and start a running regimen. Have no fear for wear and tear on your knees if you follow our guidelines. Always listen your body and start moderately; gradually building to your ideal pace. To propel you forward, take the words of John Bingham and remember: “Every day gives you an opportunity to improve. With every run, you can try to be better. Not just a better runner, but a better person.”



Pittsburgh Gazette, Get to know your Knees, Jack Kelly

NPR, Put those Shoes on: Running Won’t Kill Your Knees, Patti Neighmond March 28.2011

NPR, Exercise Studies Find Good News for Knees, Allison Aubrey, Sept. 4. 2009.

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