Is Running Bad for Your Knees?

Is Running Bad for Your Knees?

Running is a great exercise for staying healthy. Getting your body moving in any capacity is vital for overall wellness. We are designed to move! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardio (like running) can help strengthen the heart, naturally boost energy, improve lung capacity, and even help with quality sleep. [17]

As with any form of exercise, there is the possibility of injury. You have questions and concerns about your daily run—will it affect your joints? We researched for you. Keep reading to find out!

The Gist

Running is a high-impact physical activity. What does that mean? 

- High-Impact Intensity: Exercises that come into contact with the floor, equipment, or other surfaces frequently and typically with force. Can involve running and jumping.
- Low-Impact Intensity: Exercises that come into contact with surfaces very little and typically with less force. Can involve stepping, walking, and other movements. There are also “no impact” activities, like swimming.

Because running is high-impact, it will have some wear and tear on your body. If you’re an avid runner, you know this—you can experience a bit of discomfort from time to time. 

But, can running be hard on your knees and joints, specifically?  

What Does Science Have to Say About It?

The fact of the matter—running itself is not bad for your knees. Running with poor form is bad for your knees. What is poor running form? 

Poor running form is nuanced, but the basics mainly focus on bodily alignment. For example, if you have poor form, your hips might be tilted sideways, or your head might be tilted backward. If you have good form, you look straight ahead, maintain a good posture, and your arms are at 90-degree angles while also taking quick strides with midfoot strikes (hitting the ground heavily with your heel means you’re more prone to knee pain).

Science says that running is good for your knees. 

Recent research has shown that recreational runners have a lower risk of developing knee and cartilage problems. Though, through gait analysis and computer modeling, researchers confirmed that running does place a higher load on the knees than walking, running also causes the bone and cartilage of the knee to adapt, potentially leading to stronger knees overall. [1

So, yes, running can have more wear and tear compared to walking or other forms of lower-impact activities, but those same lower-impact activities will not build up cartilage to ward off future knee issues as running will. 

Science even says that running isn’t completely off the table for people who already have knee pain. A recent study including 82 middle-aged volunteers, in which the majority had asymptomatic damage to several knee structures, found that after running a marathon, there was a reduction in the tibia and femoral bone damage. [2]

More common sources of pain or injury in the knees: 

  1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS is a painful medical condition in which the connective tissue becomes so tight it begins to rub against the thighbone. The main symptom is a sharp pain between the hip and knees, which can worsen with activity. Distance runners are the most susceptible to this condition. [18]
  2. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). PFPS is a medical condition that causes pain under or around the kneecap (patella) and is often called Runner’s Knee. It can occur in one or both knees, and the pain can increase with running, walking up or down stairs, sitting for long periods, or squatting. It is not the same as Patellar tendinitis, also known as Jumper’s Knee (an injury to the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shinbone). [19,20]
  3. Bursitis. Bursitis is a medical condition identified by painful swelling affecting the bursa, most common in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet or near joints that perform frequent repetitive motions. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that act like cushions for your bones, tendons, and muscles, so friction is reduced between tissues of the body. The more stress you place on your joints, the more you are prone to this condition. [21]

How Can I Protect My Knees When I Run?

As with every other activity, you should be listening to your body. If you are running and notice pain occurring, take a step back and investigate why. 

Curious to know more ways you can protect your joints while running? Let’s take a look at some of them. 

a. Holistic Supplements. We recommend Turmeric and Collagen as your go-to superfoods. Both of these powerful compounds can increase antioxidant intake within the body to then also increase the body’s natural inflammatory response. [14,15,16] There are additional supplements to consider, as well. When searching for supplements that can help to combat joint pain and high-impact exercises, there are several supplements or ingredients to keep in mind:
Vitamin K2 & D3. Vitamin D3 helps with calcium absorption in the bloodstream, while Vitamin K2 promotes both bone and heart health by balancing calcium production. When combined, the two work together to provide powerful support to the bones and make sure calcium goes where it’s needed. [4,5]
Collagen Peptides (Types I & III). Not only does collagen make up our ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues, but collagen peptides have a powerful amino acid profile, which aids in athletic recovery. Glycine aids in lubricating the joints, which increases mobility, while proline and lysine aid in strengthening ligaments and tendons. [6]
- Black Pepper. BioPerine Black Pepper Extract increases the efficiency of absorption of vitamins and minerals by 2000%. This is a great ingredient to look for so you can get the most out of what you’re taking. [7]
Turmeric. Turmeric Curcumin can help alleviate symptoms of sore joints and support healthy brain function, and it is also commonly used to promote healthy cardiovascular and immune systems. [8,9,10]
- Boswellia Serrata Resin. Commonly used in the traditional Indian medicine system, Ayurveda, Boswellia Serrata is a branching tree that is also known as Indian Frankincense. Studies show this potent plant extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce pain and considerably improve knee-joint functions, in some cases providing relief even within seven days. [11]
Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha has been shown to enhance physical performance and even increase muscle strength. It has also been used in several studies for knee joint pain due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. [12,13]
b. Compression sportswear. Lots of fitness gurus and fanatics opt for sportswear like knee sleeves to get a little extra support for unstable knees or other body parts.
c. Stretching (before and after). If you did sports in high school, you remember having to stretch before and after each practice. This is a huge part of healthy exercising—tighter muscles mean you’re more likely to run with bad form and injure yourself. Before you run, do some dynamic stretching, then afterward, try some static stretches.
d. Slow and steady wins the race. Be gentle with yourself. If you’re just starting, your body needs time to adapt to new stressors. So, when it comes to running, avoid going too hard or too fast early on. Give the 10% Rule a try—don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% week-on-week.
e. Consult your healthcare provider. Whether you want to learn more about your health needs when it comes to exercising, or you’re considering starting a new supplement, you should always check with your doctor first. 
f. Avoid rigid surfaces like cement or asphalt. As we mentioned, running is a high-impact activity. Studies show that running on softer surfaces like a woodchip trail may reduce the impact on the tibiae, and thus, the knees. You can try treadmills or grass instead, too. [3]
g. Focus on strength training. Research indicates a strong correlation between strength training, stronger muscles and joints, and a decrease in injury risk. [22]  For a more comprehensive approach to running, try things like bodyweight squats, push-ups, walking lunges, planks, or lifting weights.
h. Invest in quality running shoes. Bad shoes are a recipe for disaster, especially for distance runners. Make sure you’re wearing shoes that best fit your gait and foot. Be mindful of factors like the cushion level, arch support, and width. You can have your foot fitted properly at most local running stores.

Looking for more ways to maintain your overall health and wellness in the fitness world? Click here to discover more everyday feel-good supplements carefully crafted with you in mind. 


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  10. Qin, S., Huang, L., Gong, J., Shen, S., Huang, J., Ren, H., & Hu, H. (2017). Efficacy and safety of turmeric and curcumin in lowering blood lipid levels in patients with cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition journal, 16(1), 68. 
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  16. Zdzieblik, D., Brame, J., Oesser, S., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2021). The Influence of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides on Knee Joint Discomfort in Young Physically Active Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 13(2), 523. 
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  18. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS): Causes, Symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Retrieved from
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  20. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 22). Patellar tendinitis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from
  21. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, August 25). Bursitis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from 
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