Running places stress on the muscles, connective tissues, bones and joints. The impact gets absorbed by your feet, ankles, knees and legs all the way up through your back. When running, you are pounding the track, trail or pavement, and the repetitive jarring can make your knees tired and sore. The frequency and distance of your runs has an impact, and your form, gait, stride length and general strength all play a role as well. Even your sneakers make a difference.
Distance and Frequency
If you're just breaking into the sport of running, you need to take it slow. Start with only one mile and gradually increase your distance. Try running every other day or two to three times a week until you get comfortable with longer runs. By pacing your training, you will strengthen the muscles required for running, help prevent injury and help keep tired knees at bay.
Form and Gait
Gait is a term that encompasses the way your legs move and the speed you travel with ease while running. Form includes your posture, foot strike, how you hold your head and shoulders and arm movement. All these things affect your knees when running. Keeping your chin up, shoulders back, abs tight and back straight helps to distribute the stress of running through your whole body so the feet and knees don't absorb it all.
Strength and Stretching
Building muscle may not seem like a counterpart to running, but it is. Your cardiovascular system benefits from running and your musculoskeletal system does as well, but adding resistance training is imperative. Building up the muscles of the legs, particularly those surrounding the knee, helps prevent injury and increase stamina. Stretching prior to running loosens up the joints and makes running feel smoother. Loose connective tissues move more easily and are less susceptible to damage and fatigue. Before you stretch, warm up your whole body for a couple of minutes by walking briskly, jogging or doing jumping jacks. Stretch for a few minutes after your run, too.
If you do not have the proper running shoes, your knees may suffer. Running shoes come in many varieties, and people often choose the wrong one. If you have normal arches, a regular stability shoe is the way to go. High arches call for a neutral or cushioned-support running sneaker to keep the foot from rolling outward as your run. Overpronated or flat feet require stabilization because they tend to roll inward, so the best choice is a motion-control running shoe. The right shoe makes running more enjoyable and helps prevent tired and sore knees.