Is Rucking Bad For Your Knees

Man sitting down with a smile drawn on his knee.
Photo Courtesy: carloscappaticci

No. Rucking is not bad for your knees. Lack of conditioning, over training, carrying too much weight, and prior injuries make people more prone to knee pain from rucking.

There are tons of benefits of rucking. It’s a great cardio and strength workout. Tons of people out there have seen benefits from rucking which explains why its popularity has been on the rise and has been adopted in different sports such as Crossfit.

If it’s gaining this much popularity, then people must have seen success and health improvement from rucking. This makes a case for why rucking is good for you.

However, with every sport comes common pains and injuries. In this case, we’re looking into if rucking is bad for your knees and how you can prevent common mistakes to avoid knee pain.

Knee pain from rucking can be caused from a lot of different complications such as:

  • Lack of conditioning
  • Prior injuries
  • Overtraining
  • Improper form
  • Hereditary

The purpose of this post is to walk through the common causes of knee pain, how you can avoid it, and common treatments.

Common Disorders of Knee Pain from Rucking

It is difficult to pin point the exact reason why some people endure knee pain from rucking. This is why making the claim, “rucking is bad for your knee” is hard to justify.

However, there are common disorders that are prevalent with knee pain from rucking such as: patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendonitis, bursitis, and ligamentous sprain (source).

Signs and Symptoms of Knee Injuries

Signs and symptoms of knee pain from rucking (before or after the ruck session) (source) are:

  • Swelling
  • Crepitus
  • Instability (while putting weight on your knee)
  • Loss of range of motion

How To Avoid Knee Pain From Rucking

1- Minimize Fatigue

You’d be surprised how small tweaks here and there can really aid your endurance and help you ruck for much longer pain free.

Here’s how you can maximize efficiency during your ruck to avoid knee pain (source):

  1. Pause briefly after each step forward
  2. Relax muscles of the forward leg (while resting your entire body weight on the rear leg)
  3. Keep your rear leg straight with the knee locked (the bone, not muscle, should be supporting the weight)

Learn more about the correct rucking posture.

2- Do Not Carry Too Much Weight

All the extra weight on your backpack works its way down to your lower body (hips, knees, and ankle). The stress on your lower body increases as you add more weight in your rucksack.

The knee plays a huge role in allowing you to put on the rucksack and taking it off.

We do understand that some people reading this may not have the luxury of reducing the weight. This could be because they’re training for a ruck event, or are training to join the military.

Tip: Should you find yourself in a situation where reducing the weight is not an option and the weight load is heavy, take shorter and faster strides to maximize efficiency.

Learn more about how much weight to carry when rucking.

3- Wear The Right Rucking Boots

While this may seem like an obvious one, but wearing the right rucking boots can make a significant difference.

Rucking typically involves uneven terrain, rocks, and different obstacles in the way. Wearing the right boots with features such as an EVA midsole (to absorb the shock on your feet while you ruck), proper lacing (for proper support), and other foot support features to protect your legs and knee.

Check out our best boots for rucking post if you’re looking for our recommendation for casual everyday rucking boots. If you’re looking for something that is made for the military and is AR 670-1 compliant, check out our top picks for AR670-1 compliant boots.

How To Treat Knee Pain From Rucking

Here’s an obvious disclaimer but we at RUCKFORMILES are not medical professionals. With that said, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention if you feel any pain.

Here are some other things you can do to treat the knee pain, you can implement these treatments as a temporary solution to the pain (source):

  1. Rest
  2. Ice the knee
  3. Compress (using bandage)
  4. Elevate
  5. Take anti-inflammatory medication.

Final Verdict

We really stressed on all the potential reasons why you may experience knee pain when rucking. However, we still don’t agree with the way that question is phrased.

Rucking is not bad for your knees. People are either carrying too much weight in their backpacks, or are not conditioned enough. When you have prior injuries or muscle imbalances, this causes other body parts to compensate for weaker body parts.

This is the perfect recipe for knee pain. Your knees should be alright if you are well conditioned, ruck in proper form, and carry a decent amount of weight.

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