Does Running Increase Your Risk of Knee Arthritis?

DOES RUNNING INCREASE YOUR RISK OF DEVELOPING KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS?

 

One of the most common questions that Physical Therapists get asked is whether running will increase your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis (OA). In the past, many healthcare practitioners told their patients that running would wear down the cartilage of the knees, ultimately resulting in arthritis. While this line of thinking made sense, it may not actually hold true.

Our bodies and skeletal systems are extremely resilient and are capable of adapting to many different types and amounts of stress if trained properly. For example, several studies have shown that, while running, our hip joints will have forces of 4-5x bodyweight placed on them, and our knees experience forces of 3-4x bodyweight! For a 180 lb. man this would be equivalent to squatting with nearly 550 lbs on their back! While this amount of force may seem scary, our bodies are very well designed to support these types of loads, and running has been shown to have many overall health benefits.

When looking at the research, running has actually NOT been shown to cause arthritic changes in the knees of recreational runners. One study in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, titled Running and Osteoarthritis: Does Recreational or Competitive Running Increase the Risk?, showed that running at the recreational level actually has a protective mechanism on the knees! This article reviewed multiple studies, with a total of over 100,00 people, that looked at the correlation between running and knee OA.

What this study found was that only 3.5% of recreational runners developed hip or knee arthritis, while 10.2% of sedentary individuals developed arthritis! What this means is that recreational running certainly won’t harm your knees, and may even protect them against developing arthritis. As always, you should follow a proper program that avoids big spikes in running volume or distance, but you should be confident in the fact that you won’t be damaging your knees.

To note, this study did find that elite level runners who ran with very high volume (greater than 57 miles per week) had a slightly higher rate of arthritis, however this does not generalize to the vast majority of people who run as a form of exercise!

If you have any questions about running and joint health, or are dealing with a running related injury, contact our office at 203-693-3754.

 

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2017 Volume:47 Issue:6 Pages:391–391 DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2017.0505

You Might Also Enjoy...

All About Meniere's Disease: Signs and Treatments

Meniere's disease seriously disrupts your life by causing sudden vertigo that lasts 20 minutes or longer. Though there's no cure, you can overcome your symptoms with the right treatment. Read on to learn how to overcome the problem.

Dry Needling for Fibromyalgia: What to Expect

Fibromyalgia causes extreme bodywide pain and muscle cramps that make getting out of bed or walking seem like impossible tasks. If you struggle with fibromyalgia, dry needling can help ease your pain. Here’s what you should know about how it works.

Is Exercising on Your Own Part of Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy helps you heal, regain maximum health, and get back to the daily life you enjoy. But you only have physical therapy a few times each week. To fully recover and maintain your results, you need to exercise on your own at home.

How to Manage Facet Syndrome

Many people haven’t heard of facet syndrome, but it’s one of the most common causes of chronic lower back and neck pain. When it comes to managing facet syndrome and easing the pain, the experts recommend physical therapy and rehabilitation.

4 Health Benefits of Dry Needling

Anyone who has experienced the pain of a knotted muscle also knows that it can be nearly impossible to make the knot relax. There’s a solution to that problem called dry needling, a safe technique that quickly eases your pain and restores movement.

Signs of a Brain Aneurysm

An estimated 3% of Americans have an aneurysm — whether they know it or not. You can protect your health by learning the signs of a brain aneurysm. That’s your best chance for seeking help before it ruptures and causes a stroke.