Is Running Bad For Your Knees?

The idea that running is bad for your knees is a popular fitness myth, according to many doctors and physios who are experts in joint health. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about running and its impact on the body. Here is the real story behind running and it’s effect on your joints!

Running Doesn’t Cause Arthritis

Contrary to popular belief, running does not cause arthritis or osteoarthritis later in life. Many people may have this misconception because we draw these conclusions from people who have run for a long time who have knee pain.

But over time people get older, which is exactly when arthritis all over the body happens — running or not. Most studies show there isn’t any correlation between running and developing osteoarthritis. The biggest risk factor for developing osteoarthritis is age.

Think of your body like a car: The more kilometers you put on it, the more there’s a chance to damage it, there’s more wear and tear. The more miles you put on your joints, the more chance there is for degeneration.

It’s also genetic, so you’re at a higher risk if there’s a history of arthritis in your family — whether you’re a runner or not.

Running When Injured Causes Serious Damage

There’s never been a study to show that running on its own generates arthritis or directly causes any kind of damage to the knee. If you already do have some damage to your knee, however, you can generate further damage — but the same is true for any kind of weight-bearing activity, like playing basketball.

It all really depends on the existing health of your knee. If you haven’t had an injury, or you don’t have a diagnosis or X-ray that indicates wear and tear on the cartilage, there’s nothing that would indicate that it’s unsafe for you to train.

Rest Days Are Key to Protecting Your Knees

Rest days to let the body recover are a part of any distance-running training program, and for good reason. If you’re training for a marathon or a half-marathon, you’ve got to build up the mileage slowly and not do a long run every day, back to back.

You might do a three-mile jog one day, then the next day do some cross training to build up leg strength and hip strength; maybe the next day do your longer run, and then take a day off. Your routine should depend on your level of experience and your goal, using pain and soreness as your guide.

If you’re very sore the day after a run, it would not be wise to go for a run that day.

The Right Shoes Are Crucial

While you may not be able to control the surface you run on, you can control your footwear. Finding the right shoes will take a little bit of trial and error. The staff at running stores may not be medical professionals, but they have a very good idea of what type of shoe works for what kind of person.

Go to a specialty running store and getting fit for comfortable running shoes that match your specific foot type. He also recommends changing your running shoes every 1 to 2 years, as time goes on, you lose cushion and ability of a shoe.

If knee pain is really becoming an issue, we recommend popping into our clinic to see one of our great Keilor East Physiotherapists at Medwest Health Care.

James Watts