Why Your Knees Hurt When You Run

Yeah I get it. You don’t have a lot of time. You wanna work out and the easiest thing to do, is go for a run. While I commend your efforts to stay in shape, I’m gonna have to break it to you that while running is most certainly better than nothing it, in some ways, could actually be worse…much, much worse.

You see the thing is that running is not necessarily bad for you, but just like anything else in the world, if you do it improperly, then it can more often than not, cause more harm than good. Today, I’m going to try to break it down in the simplest of terms. I’ve seen a lot of articles about this that are either way to complex, or are filled with inaccuracies so I’m gonna give you the skinny on why trying to run yourself skinny isn’t the way to go. (See what I did there?)

1.You’re not strong enough to run distance

You wouldn’t think that those distance runners that you see on tv are strong, but I’ve trained with some and most of them are like ants. They can lift like 50 times their body weight, but you wouldn’t know it because of their skinny little legs. AmIrite?

Anyway, running takes its toll your body. A huge toll. In fact, you probably might not know this, but each step PUTS 6-10x your body weight on each joint. Although, when you run, the impact is very short in duration, the fact is that all those steps can add up.

So what do you do? Well you do resistance training. Using things like weights, bands, TRX and other typical gym equipment should do the trick. The key is to find the perfect balance between running and resistance training. Since resistance training, also breaks the body down, you have to be careful to make sure you’re not OVERTRAINING. That in itself can lead to some serious issues.

2. You’re not flexible enough to run distance

Flexibility is more important than you probably think when it comes to running. You see, when you run, you need a certain amount of mobility in your hips, knees, and especially ankles. If all of these parts are functioning properly, it should help you to have the most efficient running gait and will also help you to prevent injuries.

If your joints are mobile, then you will have no problem lifting your knees to the proper height when you are in the knee drive stage. No problem pushing your foot down and letting your ankle and foot brace your body to absorb the impact from the ground. Nor should it be any trouble for you to reach your leg back and your heel up when you’re in the kickback stage.

If there is any dysfunction in any or all of those 3 systems, at the very least you won’t run as fast. Those all need to be mobile. In all actuality, you should probably be just as focused on your mobility as you are with your actual run. Stretching and mobility work may add time you feel you should be dedicating to your workout, but just think of it as time you are adding to your running career.

3. Wrong shoes

Proper workout shoes

Ok, so maybe you’re not going for a sprint in high heels, but you should know a little something about your feet and what shoes do for your running. There are all kinds of feet and all kinds of shoes. If you’re a runner, the most important thing is the toe box or the part of the shoe that is in front of the first laces. If it’s too small, your feet and toes can’t spread properly when to support you. It’s like cutting off the roots to a 6-foot tree and expecting it to stand on its own.

If your shoes aren’t giving you the support you need then you might as well be running barefoot. Honestly, that’s not a bad idea either, in fact, our ancestors did it for millions of years and didn’t seem to have much of a problem getting around.

However, if you’re not used to walking around barefoot, I would suggest you look into getting a gait analysis at your local shoe store. In my facility, we have access to a few gait experts and they hold workshops here to talk about how to know which is the right shoe for you.

4. Make Time To Recover

Recovery is the key to coming back for an (hopefully) even better and stronger run next time around. The problem for most though is that they NEEEEEEEEED those miles. I get it. It feels good to run, it’s your chance to zone out or appreciate nature (or your awesome treadmill).

But if bashing your legs with concrete every day was a good thing, then so many people wouldn’t have shin splints, knee fractures, hip issues…the list goes on. You have to give your body time to rest and recover. Running everyday is not the way to go at it unless you’re an athlete and even they have a running schedule where rest is built in.

Remember, you may be a runner, but comparing yourself to these other athletes, is a bad idea. They probably have more experience than you or simply better genetics…or both. It’s okay, unless you’re a sponsored athlete, but then why would you be reading this? Your coach should be doing a better job of coaching you and keeping your body healthy! Ha!

The moral of the story here is that if you take care of your body, it’ll take care of you. Listen to your body and it will listen to you. Know thyself and succeed in each and every aspect of life. Including your runs.

Do Better at GFC

Jerry “running helper” Washington

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