Is running actually bad for your knees?

Is running actually bad for your knees?

- Craig Ellis, Physiotherapist

A line generally used by people to avoid running or doctors who are stuck in an outdated school of thought that existed 30 years ago. When people say running is bad for your knees, they are generally referring to the thought that ‘overuse leads to arthritis.’

Let me dispel this school of thought immediately, and then we can talk about why running is actually great for you.

Evidence exists everywhere now to show there is no link between ‘overuse’ and ‘arthritic’ joint changes. Arthritic joint changes shown on x-ray seem to be mostly a natural body process that may occur anyway outside of an activity dependent lifestyle.

Let’s say hypothetically, even in the worst case scenario this wasn’t true, we know for a fact that there is no link whatsoever between arthritic changes shown on plain xray and pain. Really does get you questioning if that ‘arthritic’ knee really needs to be replaced …

With a good running technique that focuses on short strides, the amount of ground reaction force through your knees is significantly reduced creating less force through the joint and tendons associated with it. Granted, there is a condition called ‘runners knee’, and yes, like in any physical activity injuries can happen – but runners knee is a not serious condition if managed well with the right training load and proper exercise prescription.

But lets not forget the amazing things running does for your body including:

  • Strengthens your cardiovascular system
  • Strengthens your respiratory system
  • Keeps excess weight off
  • Reduces risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes and many cancers
  • Keeps bones strong decreasing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Keeps muscles strong decreasing the risk of requiring joint replacements

 

This is why we have seen a surge in the popularity of running in the last few years!

So if you are considering taking up running, or have a running related injury and questioning whether this is ‘good’ for you, try to remember the whole picture – your body will love you for simply putting one foot in front of the other!

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