“You have the knees of a 30-year-old!” That’s what an orthopedic surgeon told me recently while viewing x-rays of both of my knees. “You have no signs of osteoarthritis whatsoever–I’m surprised with all of the running you do…”
He probably also wanted to say “…and for a woman of your advanced age…” but he didn’t venture there.
“Wow”, I said. And after I asked him to show me the evidence in my x-rays (knee on the left, below), I thanked him for passing along the good news.
“Why don’t I have arthritis?”
The truth is, I can’t say I was surprised. I don’t have any knee pain when I run. And at age 57 and having been a runner for practically my whole life, I started thinking “Why don’t I have arthritis?”
Come to think of it, I actually did have knee pain that was serious enough for me to purchase cho-pat knee straps when I was in my 20s and 30s that I used to wear every time I went out for a run. But somewhere along the line they became completely unnecessary and I forgot all about them.
After doing a little research, here’s what I believe helped me, and I’m hoping this information can help you too. Especially if you’re currently experiencing knee pain when you run.
Tip #1: Learn how to run with proper form.
From a knee-pain perspective, this means placing your foot on the ground right below or just slighting in front of your hips when you run (VIDEO). There are other things that go into running with good form but this is one of the most important things to remember when it comes to keeping from destroying your knees.
Tip #2: Take a joint supplement that contains glucosamine and chondroitin.
Years ago (way back in the 90s) I heard about a study conducted in Australia that looked into whether or not the two ingredients, glucosamine and chondroitin, could actually help people with osteoarthritis in their knees. The results of the study showed that using the ingredients in combination not only helped reduce pain, it also helped slow down the disintegration of, and in some cases even rebuild, knee cartilage. In fact, the researchers studied both oral medication (tablets) and topical creams and found that both methods by themselves were effective but that the combination was even better.
That was all I needed to hear. I went right out and bought myself whatever joint tablets were on sale at CVS and a tube of Blue Emu that I slathered on daily. I don’t use the cream anymore but I have been taking the tablets religiously for the past 25 years!
Tip #3: Lose weight.
I was at my heaviest when I was nine months pregnant back in early 2000 and I continued to run right up to the day I went into labor! I’m sure all of that excessive weight (and the pounds I kept on months and years later) wasn’t very good for my joints, especially my knees. In fact, research shows that losing weight is one method of warding off arthritis.
Over the years my weight has gone up and down a little (mostly UP when I hit menopause!). When I turned 50 I went to a Biggest Loser training center for two weeks, lost eight pounds, and have been keeping my weight down ever since. I still have a little ways to go to get to my goal weight but I’m definitely light enough to keep my knees in a healthy state despite running sometimes upwards of 100 miles in a month.
I can’t guarantee that any of these tips will work for you. But if you’re currently experiencing knee pain when you run or just want to make sure you don’t in the future, give them a try.
Oh, and FWIW, I had a completely normal bone density scan this year–coincidence? I think not!
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And keep running to the beat!!
a.k.a. Jupiter Running Girl