Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises available to you. It's pretty much free, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, as long as you have the space and you know what you're doing. There are so many variables to it; it's also one of the most personalised forms of training out there too. One of the most popular questions when it comes to running long term though, is ‘is a treadmill better for your knees than running outdoor?'. There's a lot to take into account before you can come to an answer, but here are the basics to keep in mind.

Overlying Factors

Couple running in a park

Running itself is responsible for your knees and what is going to happen to them more so than where you are choosing to do it. There are a lot of different things involved that will have an effect on your body as a whole, and more specifically, your knees.

Shoes

One of the most important things that you need to have considered before you start running is what equipment you have. Your attire and your shoes are vital to your running success and keeping good health. Running shoes are undoubtedly the most important thing to look at when it comes to running regularly, as they are all that is going to stand between you and the force you’re creating by hitting the ground. If you get good shoes, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance at good joint health.

Frequency

Even with the right shoes and your preferred running equipment, the frequency of your running needs to be on your mind all the time. If you’re running a marathon every day, your knees are going to take some hefty damage. They are not made for that much work, and it's the same with any exercise. If you overdo it, you're going to pay the price in some way. Rest and recover properly if you want a chance at protecting your knees!

Running Technique

Finally, when looking at your knees when running, you need to pay attention to your own specific running style. There are actually a lot of variables when it comes to running, and everyone is pretty unique. The way to place your foot down and where the impact is going to be coming from is where you need to focus on. Perfect your step and you’ll protect your knees. Don’t just slam your feet down.

Differences

Couple running on a treadmill

Now that we’ve got that covered, the comparative aspects come into play. Again, they both have advantages and disadvantages, so you need to make up your own mind about what is best for you and think about what works best for you and your knees.

Shock absorbers in treadmill

The most important and distinct advantage one has over the other is the shock absorbers that are built into a treadmill. The entire mechanic of the machine is based on it being able to support itself under the multiple and constant impact you're putting on it, so it comes with built-in shock absorbers. This means that your knees will be taking a lot less of the impact as the machine does it for you, and this, in turn, is what is going to be the best for your knees.

Terrain Outdoor

In contrast to this point, you do still need to remember all of the variation that outdoor running has to offer. Running in an urban, cemented area is going to be hard hitting on your knees unless you have really, really good shoes. Running on grass, however, is the complete opposite and offers a lot of the same benefits of a treadmill. You need to decide for yourself what works for you.

Overall, a treadmill is consistent, guaranteed protection and in the long run, is probably going to be the best for your knees. The conditions don't change, there are no pitfalls, and you know exactly what you're getting. We'd recommend trying both for yourself and seeing which is more sustainable for you and maybe even try doing both in unison. Just do what is best for your own knees, and if you start having pain or discomfort, get it checked out sooner rather than later.

Exercise.co.uk Treadmills


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.