Healthy Habits,  Science

Runners Knee

Recently My Husband started running with me. I’m super impressed and happy that he is giving this a try, and he asked me, out of his own. This came as a surprise, but I’m happy.

I don’t usually run with friends and when someone tells me –  “We should Train together!”.  I’m never sure what to say. My Husband is my best friend and the person I want to do things with, everything else with other people just feels like allot of coordination.

SO were going through the motions of getting into running together – I’ve Kinda forgotten what it felt like in the beginning to not be fit. How hard it was, and how my body reacted to suddenly moving. But the number one thing you will ALWAYS hear as a beginner runner is:

“Running damages you knees!” or “Running is hard on your joints!”

My husband is a man, so he is allot heavier than me and he previously preferred weight training to cardio, so he’s a little bigger built than your average runner. The first thing that seems like it won’t work is when a person of a bigger build starts running. But if you think about it everybody’s frames are built in proportion, so why just because they are heavier should their knees now suddenly get injured?

Most people that say things like the above are not runners, or don’t enjoy running. I got so nervous every time someone said this in front of my husband, to the point where I wanted to tackle them. Keeping him motivated to run was hard enough without ignorance jumping in and discouraging him.

So I decided to do the research.

– What is runner’s knee exactly, and what are the myths around it –

Contrary to popular believe Runner’s knee is not just any type of pain in your knee and can be easily misdiagnosed if you don’t know of better. As a new runner your whole body, legs, feet, bum muscles and even your back muscles are moving differently than it’s used to. It is natural for some muscles to hurt a little in the beginning. But if we all stopped the moment something hurt, then we wouldn’t go anywhere in life.

Below is  images of the knee and all the places it could possibly hurt

You need to figure out why it’s hurting and fix it. You have to educate yourself and read up. Now self-diagnosis is not always a good idea but there are more than enough resources out there for you to teach yourself how to fix things.

According to Runners world  – Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is when the stress of running cause’s irritation where the kneecap rests on the thighbone. This can result in a sharp pain that can be sudden or chronic, it may disappear while you’re running and return again afterward. Most people blame the way your knees move as the cause of the irritation, while this can be the problem, most people don’t consider that it can be fixed with simple exercises. The cause can often be linked to weak quadriceps and tight hamstrings.

Quadriceps are a large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the great extensor muscle of the knee, forming a large fleshy mass which covers the front and sides of your thigh bone. By strengthening these muscles you should be able to remove some of the unnecessary stress that your knees go through and tight hamstrings can put pressure on the knee. If you want to treat and avoid runner’s knee, add strengthening and stretching to your workout routine.

I have personally never had Runners knee so I’m speaking purely out of what I’ve researched. The pain is localised around the actual knee cap, and directly behind it. It feels like a tenderness almost in the centre of the knee cap. The pain usually worsens as the intensity of exercise increases.

Myths Debunked:

  • A Study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in August 2008 compared the progression of knee osteoarthritis in distance runners and non-runners over an 18-year period and found that it was neither more prevalent nor more severe in the group of runners.
  • The largest study of runners ever completed, which was recently published in Medicine Science in Sports & Exercise, concluded that running does not increase the risk of cartilage breakdown. Runners had half the occurrence of knee osteoarthritis compared to walkers.
  • High-impact exercises like running spur bone growth and strengthen the muscles around the knee, thereby taking pressure off the joint.
  • A study of nearly 75,000 runners and nearly 15,000 walkers published in 2013 found that runners were significantly less likely to develop arthritis than the walkers – the risk was actually roughly half. Paul Williams, the author of the study, suggested that running lowers BMI more than walking, and that lower body weight is the key to preventing arthritis. His study showed that the greater the weekly mileage of the runner, the lower their risk rate dropped. Again, this could be related to a lower body weight: the single-largest risk factor for knee osteoarthritis is obesity.

And there’s more, hundreds more of Websites stating the same! Don’t just jump and listen to what everybody has to say – do your own Research, make up your own mind.

If your body hurts there is always a way to make it stronger and improve your performance. It is important to remember that if you have a family history of osteoarthritis and bad knees that you should be extra attentive to your knees and that running might not be a long term sport for you.

Becoming a runner has much more benefits than not doing any exercise at all. So try it, once you break through the hard and the nitty-gritty of getting fit you’ll love it! Before you know it you won’t be able to remember what you did before you started running.

Happy Running!

XOXOX – Jani

Further Reading:


  • Hannah

    Very interesting! I enjoy cycling AND running usually the two can be in competition, with cyclists often pointing out that ‘running is hard on the joints’ however I’ve never had any problems personally, and have also been quite sceptic as to weather there is actually concrete proof of runners having damaged joints.

    • Jani du Toit

      Hi Hannah, Thank you for your comment!
      Glad you found it interesting – I think it differs from person to person,
      I also think that the additional exercises help improve a athletes chances of not getting injured.

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