Osteoarthritis of the knee is a relatively common condition, especially in older individuals who have put a lot of stress and strain on their knees over the years. Movement can cause symptoms to worsen, so many people assume that rest is the best thing they can do for their knees, but that’s not true. Remaining active and even running is preferred to transitioning to a sedentary lifestyle if you’re dealing with knee osteoarthritis. In today’s blog, we share some tips for continuing your running regimen if you’re dealing with knee osteoarthritis.
Running With Knee Osteoarthritis
Although it may be a bit uncomfortable to run if you’re managing knee osteoarthritis, it’s actually very beneficial to remain active, and studies do not suggest that running worsens osteoarthritic degeneration in the knees. Running does not cause symptoms of osteoarthritis to worsen over time, it doesn’t lead to worsening images when using X-ray imaging, and it can actually help to control some of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Here’s how to achieve those benefits through a running program if you have knee osteoarthritis.
- Take It Slow – You want to ease into a running routine, especially if you have osteoarthritis of the knee. Overloading the knee can lead to more discomfort, regardless of your underlying cartilage loss, so start with a manageable pace and a short distance and slowly increase both as your knee and body adjusts to this new stress.
- Prioritize Your Form With A PT – How you run dictates how stress will be dispersed across your body. Running is a rather high-impact exercise compared to other activities, so if you are landing incorrectly or have poor form, your knees may be attempting to handle more stress than normal, and this can lead to knee discomfort when you run. At our clinic, we can conduct physical assessments of your form or connect you to one of our biomechanical feedback devices to allow technology to capture your form and spot your deficiencies so they can be quickly corrected.
- Strength Train When You’re Not Running – It’s also a good idea to vary your exercise and do some strength training on days that you’re not going to go for a run. A physical therapist can help set you up with a mobility or strength training program that you can conduct from the comfort of your home to help develop key knee muscles that will make life easier when you’re running.
- Wear The Right Running Shoes – To help alleviate stress on your foot, calves and knee, you want to ensure you’re running in a cushioned and supportive shoe that is designed for running. If you need help finding a running shoe, ask a store employee or your physical therapist. They can help look at the shape of your foot and match you to a pair of running shoes that will provide the right level of support. Studies have shown that overly-padded running shoes can lead to runners landing harder on their feet, so shoes with the most padding aren’t always the most protective option, and what works best will vary from person to person.
- Talk To Your PT About Your Symptoms – If you’re dealing with osteoarthritis symptoms while you’re running or at other points throughout the day, bring this up to your physical therapist. Be as detailed as possible about the location of your discomfort and what caused symptoms to develop or alleviate. Odds are they can set you up with some targeted exercises and stretches to help keep this discomfort at bay.
- Maintain An Ideal Weight – The more you weigh, the more stress your knees will have to absorb every time you land with your running stride. Running can help us lose weight, which will actually make it easier to keep running, so work to lose weight by staying active and eating a healthy diet, and the benefits of running will become even more noticable.
Don’t let knee osteoarthritis keep you from doing the activities you love or pursuing exercises that can help control symptoms. For more information about knee osteoarthritis or another physical condition that can be managed with physical therapy, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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