I chose to - Sorry - I forced myself to write this article because I have heard this question easily a thousand times from many clients. I am tired of answering the same question again and again.

The common myths are

  • Running on a treadmill is bad for knees.
  • Treadmill has high impact on our knees
  • Treadmill is just for walking

Does treadmill running have high impact on our knees?

Treadmill running is not higher in impact when compared with road running. Treadmill has a semi-floating wooden board beneath its belt, which will act as a shock absorber to reduce the impact on your heels, knees and spine.

Is treadmill running harder than road running?

Treadmill running is not equal to ground running. In fact, it is easier than the latter. The metabolic cost of running on a treadmill is lesser than running on the ground with the same speed and body mass.

Treadmill running is a kind of aided running. As soon as you strike your heal forward the moving belt brings your landed leg behind your body, thereby making the next step easier.

Is treadmill running bad for your knees?

My answer is - NO, absolutely not.

There are many things to consider before blaming the treadmill for your knee pain. Certain intrinsic and extrinsic factors need to be assessed and corrected before you start running.

EXTRINSIC FACTORS

  • Poor running skill
  • Too much (5K run on 2 consecutive days)
  • Too soon (Beginner-running @ 20km/hr. speed like UBolt)
  • Worn out shoes (Please donate to museum)

INTRINSIC FACTORS

  • Tight calf muscles
  • Weak calf muscles
  • Poor gluteus (Bum) muscle strength and endurance
  • Tight Quadriceps muscles
  • Poor balance and proprioception
  • Overweight / Obesity
  • Lack of intrinsic foot muscle strength
  • Flat foot (Collapsed foot arch)
  • Rigid Foot (High Arch)

10 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD DO

BEFORE YOU START RUNNING

  1. Get your joints and muscles examined thoroughly by experts and get the clearance for running from a therapist or strength coach.
  2. Understand, accept and work on your intrinsic limitations.
  3. Always increase the duration/intensity gradually.
  4. Low load Long duration stretch (>1min) for prime muscles (Hip flexor, Glut, Quad, Calf) is the key in preventing knee pain.
  5. Keep doing lower body muscle strength training.
  6. Learn “Running Techniques” from experts.
  7. Never run daily. Give some time for muscle & joint recovery.
  8. Change your running shoes yearly or after every 800 km.
  9. Foam Roller Warm up for your IT band, calf and glute muscles.                                                                                                     
  10. Start core stability training to avoid back pain

Bottom Line: Running on a treadmill is not only less impactful on the joints, but it assists your running and is of a lesser metabolic cost when compared to running on the road. There are many factors to consider before one even begins to run, let alone run on the treadmill and blame it for causing knee pain.