The Damage Running On The Treadmill Does To Your Knees

Whether you're training for your next marathon, or in the first weeks of a couch-to-5k program, one thing you've probably discovered already is that running can be tough on the knees. As a high-impact activity which lands hundreds of pounds of force on the knees — as much as five to 12 times your weight, according to Men's Health — it's not surprising that knee pain is a common complaint among runners. But while running can provide a safe and effective workout, running on a treadmill carries some particular challenges.

Fitness trainers emphasize that it's running incorrectly — not just running itself — that can damage knees. Mindy Solkin, an ACE-certified personal trainer and the founder, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City, told WebMD, "Running doesn't hurt your knees... if you do it correctly. I really believe that most injuries happen because of poor running form." On treadmills, many runners run on their toes, causing greater pressure on their knees, according to Aaptiv. Being aware of this, and making an effort to land mid-foot instead, can help alleviate some of the impact. Starting out at a walking pace, which is naturally a heel-to-toe action for most people, and then gradually increasing your speed to a run, can also help treadmill runners be more mindful of their form.

Keeping good posture can help prevent injuries

Increasing the incline on the treadmill to 1 to 3 percent can also help take the pressure off the knees. David Siik, founder of Precision Run in New York, told Well + Good, "Adding incline reduces certain forces acting on the knees, which can create a much more comfortable experience."

Treadmill running is often berated for being boring, and runners often, understandably, focus on music or a TV show while running. Unfortunately, many then forget about keeping good posture, and this can again contribute to knee injuries. Katie Dunlop, CPT and group fitness instructor, told Aaptiv, "Keep your core engaged, shoulders pulled down away from your ears, and posture tall to keep your body in correct alignment." Being mindful of maintaining good form, and paying attention to how your body feels while running, can go a long way in preventing knee injuries. Solkin reminds us, "Runners should tune in to their body, not out."