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Bad running form responsible for knee pains, not running itself

You keep the basics right and the rest will follow. Running will soon become therapeutic for even painful knees and possibly get you rid of your long-term knee pains

other sports Updated: Jul 07, 2018 18:32 IST
Running,Olympics,knee osteoarthritis
Knee joint loading exercise like running does no harm to articular cartilage in participants at increased risk of, or with, knee osteoarthritis.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

For aeons now we have been told by the so called experts that running causes osteoarthritis of knees, which further leads to lifelong knee pain. Osteoarthritis has been taught to us doctors in medical colleges to be an irreversible degenerative disease of the joints. Hence, my colleagues further justify their stand that no one should be running if they don’t plan to go to the Olympics.

A recent review study looked at the impact of knee joint loading exercises like running on knee joint articular cartilage amongst those at risk or with knee osteoarthritis. This study was published first online in British Journal of Sports Medicine on June 22, 2018. It included nine trials over years, including a total of 14 comparisons of knee cartilage conditions. The study was headed by Dr Alessio Bricca from University of Southern Denmark with co-authors being from UK, Austria and Germany. They concluded that knee joint loading exercise like running seems not to harm articular cartilage in participants at increased risk of, or with, knee osteoarthritis.

I went into the details because it is not only your right but your duty to know about such things because it’s your body and you need to know what is best for you. Stop outsourcing your problems or be prepared to be taken for a ride. It’s actually the system at fault rather than my doctor colleagues alone who are giving you the above well intended advice. Globally there is now a realisation that doctors during MBBS are not taught about exercises but somehow everyone assumes them to be experts by default at exercises and sports.

So why do people who pick up running post college get injuries so frequently? Having been a slob for years and decades makes them forget how to move. Running no more comes to them naturally, the way it did for them when they themselves were younger. Your bad running form is responsible for your knee pains, not running itself.

Three musketeers help you run like your young self

Firstly, while running never forget the soft grip. Imagining a papad in hands that you can’t crumble will help reinforce the same. Secondly, soft foot landing is important. If you can hear your footsteps then you are too loud. The tricky part is that footsteps are like snoring as no one wakes themselves up with their own snoring. Keep trying to reduce the sound you make with your footsteps. Don’t worry about where you land, heel, mid or forefoot. Lastly, keeping your strides will further help reduce the impact your knees go through with each step.

You keep the basics right and the rest will follow. Running will soon become therapeutic for even painful knees and possibly get you rid of your long-term knee pains.

Inspiration of the week

Nineteen years ago, on a fateful day during Vijay Op, popularly known as Kargil War, after a lull of 48 hours, the enemy started bombarding Major DP Singh’s post again. The very second round of mortar blasted a metre away. Hundreds of shrapnel made him bleed. While being evacuated, cardiac arrest added to his condition being unfit enough to be declared brought dead on arrival to the hospital. Presence of mind of the anaesthesiologist doctor saved his life. DP’s right leg had to be amputated above his knee as gangrene was spreading up.

It took him 14 years to get on with running again but then there was no stopping him. To run at 5 am he needs to get up at 3 am to prepare for the run, that’s not even counting the travel time. Major DP Singh has run multiple half marathons now in all kinds of conditions. He’s even done full marathon in training.

At the end of the day, remember that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Some might joke Major DP Singh is able to run because he has no right knee, so no pain, but the fact is he took his situation as a challenge to lead a normal, rather an extraordinary life.

So what’s your excuse not to move?

Disclaimer: The writer is a Sports-Exercise Medicine doctor

First Published: Jul 07, 2018 18:32 IST