Every time I run, I marvel that my knees don't hurt. How can it be that at my size, my age, my lack of fitness for so long, I can run for 3, 4, 5 miles or more and not feel it in those tiny joints that are holding my legs together? I don't know the answer. But still, every day when I put on my running shoes, I feel like there's a ticking time bomb in there just waiting to go off. The last thing I want to come of this fun, healthy and exciting new lifestyle I've adopted is to have to pay for it down the road with a knee replacement.

I am absolutely willing to put in the work to make sure that never happens, and recently I ran across a story in Runner's World that offered some great advice: https://www.runnersworld.com/knees/how-you-are-wrecking-your-knees.

Here are three points I took away from the article:

1) Don't skip your warmup. Warming up lubricates the knee joint, improves elasticity and boosts oxygen flow to the area. "The best warmup is a combination of low level cardio-activity, such as jogging or jumping jacks coupled with dynamic stretches that accentuate the motion you are targeting," the article says.

2) Watch your weight. Knees are the largest load-bearing joints in our body. "If you lose ten pounds, your knees experience 30 to 50 pounds less weight when you go up and down stairs. If you lose 50 pounds, your knees experience 250 less pounds of force when you take on stairs."

3) Don't overtrain. "Yes, you want to exercise to help your health, but going too hard, too quickly, for too long can spell danger for your knees—especially if your joints are already vulnerable." So listen to your body. “Pain is a good sign it’s time to back down and avoid overuse," the article says. But also know that not exercising can actually make knee pain worse. “Exercise keeps the joint lubricated and keeps the muscles around the knee strong."

The experts also say don't underestimate the power of rest. It "helps your body adapt and integrate the demands of your chosen activity," the article says. A day off clears away the inflammatory mediators circulating in your blood stream.

There was also this incidental nugget: Keep two sets of running shoes and rotate them. "If you run daily, the cells of the shoes may not recover their elasticity by your next run. That means there’s less cushion, which can damage your knees over time,” one expert said.

It never occurred to me that the very fabric of my shoe might need more time to recover!

The article is far more detailed than that, so if your knees are giving you any problems, be sure to read it and implement some changes. And if your knees are not an issue, keep up the good habits you likely already have!

-- Paula