I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people have told me to reduce the number of miles I run because it’s super hard on your knees. My own doctor even told me that! I believed it for a while because I had major knee pain while I trained for my first half marathon and a long time afterwards as well. I didn’t quite believe that running was directly contributing to my pain, so I conducted my own little experiment…I got fitted for running shoes and insoles. Lo and behold the pain was gone. Running itself wasn’t the culprit - my bad choice in shoes was.
And now there is research that proves the contrary as well. NPR recently covered a story about how joggging, for the most part, is beneficial for the knees. Researchers studied people with knee arthritis and found that these individuals were never really runners to begin with. Also, when researchers studied runners and followed them over time, they found that their risk of developing osteoarthritis was no more than expected. Both studies show that recreational running doesn’t increase the risk of arthritis.
In fact, running is healthy for the joint and the surrounding cartilage. It appears that exercise stimulates the cartilage and makes it stronger by increasing the creation of certain proteins.
Researchers have also found that as regular joggers aged, they were more inclined to participate in other forms of exercise like yoga, cycling, and walking. These individuals actually tended to live longer than the non-joggers with a better quality of life.
Before you go and sign up for 3 marathons, I have to tell you about the noted caveat. If you’ve suffered a knee injury, especially one that resulted in surgery, running can increase your risk of knee arthritis. However, most doctors agree that running an eight to 10-minute mile pace for about 40 minutes a day is fine. My personal view is that no one knows your body better than you do. Please run responsibly!
Are you a runner? Have you ever suffered from a running related injury?