How To: Running with an Arthritic Knee

Running has been an integral part of my life for the past five years, and this year I am especially thankful to have participated in the turkey trot because I was able to run it pain free. Last year I was having some major pain in my right knee, as in not even being able to run five minutes without irritation. I ran the trot last year, but it hurt.

I didn’t have any answers about the cause of my pain until July, when I was told I had arthritis in my knee. I was surprised and frustrated, to say the least, but after some digging around, I was consoled that I would be able to manage the pain and continue running. It took some time, but now I can say that I have had several runs without any pain at all.

So how did I get to this point? That’s what I’m going to share with you today. Here’s how to continue running with an arthritic knee.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, physician, expert, etc. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me.

1. Buy new shoes suited for extra support

If you read any of these tips, make it this one, plain and simple. New shoes was truly the turning point for me in working with my arthritis. I felt like I was doing everything I could to take care of my knee and would still get random bouts of pain while running until I bought supportive shoes. If it comes to using inserts vs. supportive shoes, I would suggest going with the shoes because I found my inserts not very helpful at all. My current shoe is the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 18, and I love them.

2. Take glucosamine supplements

I take one or two per day, depending on if I remember to take them. I’m sure if I was stricter about this, I would see even more improvement. There’s some conflicting information out there about whether or not glucosamine actually does help ease arthritis pain and/or slow joint damage, but I feel that my knee movement has felt more fluid and mobile since taking the supplement. More info here.

3. Foam roll your leg muscles (quad, hamstring, and along your IT band)

This is another one that I could be better about doing. Currently, I foam roll one to three times a week, but I should be doing it more often. See how to use a foam roller here.

4. Strength train

Full body, upper body, lower body… all strength training can do is help. Increasing leg strength, especially, will provide you with better running form, better endurance, and thus ease the pain on your knees. I strength train three times per week, alternating between body weight, barre workouts, and lifting. Read more on why strength training is great for runners here.

5. Do yoga

Maybe I’m just including this because I adore yoga, but, really, it is a great way to strengthen the whole body and loosen the muscles, which can only help joint issues (as long as you do the poses properly!).

Like I said, I’m no expert on this, and I had to do some research of my own. Nevertheless, all of these tips combined have really helped to improve my running ability and comfort while running with an arthritic knee. It’s not an ideal situation, but you have to work with what you’re given and make the best of it. For me – giving up running was absolutely not an option. I was determined to continue running, and I am!