Will Running Actually Cause Your Knees to “Wear Out”?

running knee pain phyx you physiotherapy in port macquarie

There is a commonly held belief that people who run are doing damage to their knees and will end up with osteoarthritis (OA).

Is this true?

A large analysis in 2017 compared data from studies involving over 100,000 people.

They found that not only are recreational runners not at an increased risk, they actually have a significantly lower risk of developing OA than people who are sedentary.

Prevalence rates were:

  • 3.5% for recreational runners
  • 10.2% for sedentary people
  • 13.3% for professional runners

The only running group found to have a higher risk of OA than sedentary people are elite/professional runners that have a large volume and intensity of training, often easily over 90km/week.

So not only does recreational running not cause OA, it may actually protect against it.

What about runners that already have knee OA?

In most cases people that are currently running with OA can continue to do so.

Managing loads and recovery will be important, however there is evidence to indicate that continuing running won’t speed the progression of existing knee OA.

The Benefits of Running

Running is well established as a great form of exercise to improve cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, as well as general health and wellbeing. Running can help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, develop strong bones and have positive impacts on mental health. It requires minimal equipment and is an activity almost everyone has done to some degree at some point in their lives. You don’t need anyone else to go running, but running can be a great social activity to meet up with a friend or join a local running group to meet new friends.

If you are interested in starting to run for the first time or after a long break, it is important to progress gradually and ensure your body is prepared by completing strength training to improve joint stability.

Our team of Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists at Phyx You Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation can assess you and provide targeted exercises and advice on how to start your running journey. This can include guidance on running technique, frequency and intensity of runs.

For help on your running journey please give us a call on (02) 6584 5005 or book online below!

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