I was very flattered to be approached by “ABC Drive with Geoff Hutchinson” to comment on an article that was published about running being Not “bad for your knees”! Indeed regular running at a distance you are fit enough for is actually good for keeping your knees healthy.
Regular listeners to “Drive” will know that Geoff is trying to lose weight and running is a great way of exercising to get your heart rate up and burn a few quick calories. But people who want to lose weight by running often run into trouble (excuse the pun) by being limited by knee pain that starts not long after they start their running.
I consider myself fortunate that I have a life that means I am on my feet all day and never stop, so I have never had to lose weight. (Although on reflection I am not sure how fortunate it is; I don’t have time to sit down, ever). But I did decide to go back to playing hockey this year, which is a lot of sprinting and changing direction, putting pressure on my left knee. For the first time in my life, I felt the early arthritis signs of tightness in my knee when squatting and a clunky knee cap. By following the “rules of training” I was able to get through the season injury free!
As I explained on the radio, the easiest things you can do is make sure you have 2 days rest in between impact sessions. So if you run on a Monday, don’t run again until Thursday. 2 solid and challenging sessions are far better than 3 tentative sessions.
Also you have to understand the amount of impact involved in different exercise. Swimming is zero impact, cycling 1.5 x body weight, walking 3 x body weight, running 9 x body weight. So during the 2 rest days, to keep exercise up when trying to lose weight, go swimming or cycling as it won’t bother your knees. Also there will obviously less impact the more weight you lose.
You have to remember that pain during exercise and the next day is OK and almost to be expected. You want to pain to be 2-3/10 intensity, or in other words, at a level that is acceptable to you. This low grade pain indicates your body is being stimulated to become stronger, but too much pain indicates you have been overloaded. If too much pain is the case, then you need to reduce your time and/or intensity next time you run.
So don’t be afraid of running, there are ways to work yourself up to being strong enough. If you need help to develop a program or need a knee fixed so you can start running, book into Active Solutions Physiotherapy.