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It is a common misconception that you should avoid running with knee arthritis, THIS IS A MYTH! We have created a list of 7 tips for running with knee arthritis.
1. Start Slow
Don't be afraid of running with knee arthritis. Contrary to common belief running can actually be beneficial to the arthritic knee with several studies showing that in the long term running helps too slow down the degeneration of the cartilage within the knee. If new to running or coming back after a break it is key to start slow and gradually build up your tolerance over time. Apps like 'couch to 5k' can be very helpful into getting you started in running.
It is important to do some lower limb strengthening as the stronger your leg muscles are the more force they can absorbed, offloading the joint. It is important that we build up strength in our thigh muscles so our Hamstrings and Quadriceps but also the other big muscle groups in our lower limb such as the Glutes and Calf muscles as these all work together to absorb force when we run..
Remember that arthritis is a normal ageing process so it is normal that we might not be able to run as hard and as long as we did when we were younger. You may need to reduce your running volume but this doesn't mean you need to stop running altogether. Try shortening your runs slightly or the frequency of runs you do a week as this will help to reduce the load on your knees. You may also find it helpful if you intersperse your run with some walks to help break up the run.
Understand that with arthritis recovery can take a little longer than normal but only an extra day or so. It is important not to completely rest on these days however. As the cartilage lies within the capsule of the knee joint it does not have its own blood supply. This means we need to keep moving the joint in order to get the required nutrients to the area. Low impact activity such as swimming and cycling can help the knee join to heal and speed up recovery.
Research shows that the best shoes are simply whatever you find most comfortable. These tend to be ones with a spongy bottom but most trainer shops will let you run in the shows and might even have a treadmill so you can see how comfy they feel to run in. Don't hang onto trainers if they are on their last legs, if well used trainers will need replacing every 1-1.5 years.
Another common misconception here is that you can't run are hard surfaces, this is a myth. Every one is different and responds differently to different surfaces. Try keeping a diary of what surfaces cause your pain to flare up and which ones feel fine. The only terrain the research tells us to avoid is too much downhill running. This is because downhill running can put unnecessary load on the knee causing pain. try walking down hills instead especially if they are quite steep.
7. Know your knees
Every one is different, everyone recovers and progresses at different speeds so it is important to know what activities flare up your pain and your body might behave completely different to other peoples. Remember the road to fitness and recovery is not a straight line, sometimes you'll progress quickly, sometimes slowly or even regress slightly. This is completely normal but if you look at what you've accomplished over a month you're bound to start seeing improvements.