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Many people think that running for exercise can lead to wear and tear on the knee joint, which in turn may lead to knee pain and early arthritis. 

Is this true?

The good news is that this issue has been examined extensively and the good news is that the evidence demonstrates that in fact the opposite is true.  Regular runners have less joint pain and wear/tear that non-runners.  This is something that has been studied in-depth by many researchers over the years, and in fact all of the available evidence actually suggests the opposite: that runners generally have less joint wear & tear than non-runners.  It should be no surprise that runners are generally overall healthier than non-runners as well.

FACT: Research shows that regular runners have lower incidences of osteoarthritis than non-runners.

It should be noted that we are talking about straight-line running.  When it comes to direction-changing sports such as soccer, football, and basketball, there are studies that show a greater risk of knee osteoarthritis.  In fact, competitive soccer players have a high incidence of knee arthritis.   

The research does not show that running can reverse or permanently protect against osteoarthritis.  In addition, you should not plan on running an ultra-marathon without the proper training.  For most of us, a gradual progression from walking to jogging is probably the best way to enjoy the outdoors and maintain our health.   If anyone tells you that running is bad for your knees at least you will know that the science is behind you.  

If you’ve been experiencing knee pain that doesn't improve with rest, then CONTACT US today at 847-786-2014.

Emery Physical Therapy in Mt. Prospect, IL has provided orthopedic physical therapy for knee injuries for 17 years.  We pride ourselves on using an evidence-based treatment plan which includes manual therapy and focused one-on-one attention to get you back to your active self.

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  • Miller, et al. (2014). Why don’t most runners get knee osteoarthritis? A case for per-unit-distance loads. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(3), 572-579.

  • Hansen, et al. (2012). Does running cause osteoarthritis in the hip or knee? PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function & Rehabilitation, 4(5 Suppl.), S117-S12. Willick & Hansen, (2010). Running and osteoarthritis. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 29(3), 417-428.