Is Running on a Treadmill Bad for your Knees?

Is Running on a Treadmill Bad for your Knees
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Running on a treadmill regularly can be a fun way to have complete control over your fitness regime and even the snow will not be able to stop you or deter you from running. 

A treadmill is something that can benefit you in a number of different ways, ranging from your mental to your physical health. 

Today we are going to be discussing whether or not running on a treadmill is bad for your knees.

Treadmills and Knees

Running on a treadmill is something that can provide you with a phenomenal cardiovascular workout, and it can also offer you a platform that makes tracking your progress really easy. This is not to say that running on a treadmill is without risks and we do believe that there are a few things that you need to consider when you are going to be running on a treadmill, namely, the risks and rewards that are associated with your knees.

Treadmills and Knees

The Risks

We would never tell you that there is no risk to your knees when running on a treadmill, especially if you are someone who suffers from a pre-existing knee injury. But, we can tell you that the risks that are associated with running on a treadmill are both manageable and completely avoidable.

Before you start to think about running on a treadmill, you should consider having a consultation with a physiotherapist. This gives them the opportunity to assess your individual situation, something that is absolutely vital if you do have a pre-existing injury.

One of the main risks that you need to be aware of is the risk of suffering from a knee injury. Our knees contain a lot of delicate tendons and ligaments, all of which are important because they hold everything in place and interconnect with the muscles in our legs. One of the most common injuries that people suffer from is called “runner’s knee.”

Runner’s knee is a problem that feels like a dull pain behind the knee cap and people who suffer from it usually have strength imbalances in their thighs. The imbalance itself causes cartilage to grind against the knee cap. As you can probably already tell, this is something that a physiotherapist would more than likely recommend lower body strength training for. Strength training can help to fix the strength imbalances and get rid of the cause of the problem.

If we take a closer look at this risk, we can see that it isn’t really something that is associated with the treadmill itself. For example, any form of running can cause runner’s knee. The reality is that knee issues are actually associated with a number of different intrinsic and extrinsic factors, all of which can be corrected, either on your own or with the help of a professional.

For example, an extrinsic factor could be the fact that you are doing too much too soon. A beginner should never attempt to run like Usain Bolt. Or, it might simply be that you lack running skill. An intrinsic factor could be found in the fact that you might have poor balance and proprioception, or your gluteus muscle could lack the endurance that it needs. These are all things that can be worked on, the treadmill itself cannot be blamed for them.

The Rewards

When people think about their knees and treadmills, they often think about the risks that they are exposing to their knees, opposed to thinking about the rewards. Our knees are essentially shock absorbers and you should never, ever look at shock absorption as a risk if you are running on a treadmill.

This is because running on a treadmill is a much better option than running on the pavement in terms of shock absorption because of the way that treadmills are built. Some treadmills absorb shock better than others, but the fact that they can do it at all can prevent injuries and decrease risks when it comes to your knees. If you have a pre-existing injury, then you should look for a treadmill that features a high level of shock absorption.

How to avoid injuries

Avoiding injuries while running on a treadmill is easy, as long as you know how. One of the main things that you need to do involves making sure that your posture is perfect because you are more likely to succumb to an injury if you have poor posture. You could simply twist something and hurt your knee.

How to avoid injuries

In our opinion, you should make sure that your body is both upright and relaxed. Try not to hunch your shoulders over no matter how tempting it might be to keep your eyes on the console. Make sure that you keep your arms by your sides, as opposed to holding onto the handles because keeping your arms in that position is a really unnatural way to run.

You should also make sure that you are landing on the balls of your feet while avoiding landing on your heels because the balls of your feet can distribute shock. If are at all concerned about your posture, then you should consult either a personal trainer or a physiotherapist; that way, someone else can help you correct it.

The Bottom Line

Running on a treadmill is something that impacts your knees a lot less than running on a road would. It also provides you with a training platform where you can work on your own limitations. There are a lot of different factors that need to be considered when it comes to knee pain in general but blaming a treadmill for your knee pain might not be the best place to start.


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