Despite the common misconception, the truth is that running probably isn’t bad for your knees. In fact, what most of the recent research regarding the topic has found is that it might actually be good for them.
Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:39 marathoner and the founder of Strength Running says several studies have shown that long-time runners likely have no increased risk for knee damage and that moderate amounts of running may even promote cartilage repair in the knee joint.
However, that doesn’t mean that knee pain isn’t a real thing or that some runners don’t have to deal with it. But instead of adding a long list of knee-strengthening exercises to your workout routine or shelling out for the latest and greatest compression gear, there may be an easier way to prevent knee pain associated with running.
Results from a new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise found that “increasing forward trunk lean,” or in simple terms, leaning forward slightly while you run, may “reduce knee loading” so that the joint will absorb less shock each time your foot strikes the pavement.
This is just one thing you can do to develop your running form to achieve pain-free and improved performance, though.
As Jordan Metzl, MD, a sports medicine physician and author of Running Strong explained to Men’s Fitness, an even easier form-improving strategy is to increase the “turnover rate” of your feet.
“It’s a lot easier to change how quickly your feet turn over than it is to change your body position, but it will get you a similar injury-prevention effect,” he said in Men’s Health.
Metzl said the ideal rate (or cadence) is about 80 strikes per minute per foot (or 160 in total for both your left and right feet). To calculate your cadence, just count how many times your left foot hits the ground in one minute while running (or use a running app like Cruise Control, which will set the pace of your music based on a specific cadence).
Metzl told Men’s health that if your striking in the range of 60 to 65 times per minute with your left foot, it means your stride is too long and your putting more “compressive force” on your knees.