Is Running Harmful to Your Joint Health?


It is a common belief that running is harmful to your joints. After all, it does seem to make sense. The forceful impact of each step on your knees and hips would seem like the logical explanation for the onset of osteoarthritis, the irreversible wearing of the cartilage in the joint. But this assumption is a myth.

While the extra force of running might be concerning, studies show that running isn’t harmful to your joints. In fact, for healthy runners, the cartilage in the joints actually strengthens over time.

Let us explain.

Debunking the Myth

In July of 2013 “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” published a study debunking the myth about running’s impact on joint health. Over the course of seven years, researchers studied runners and walkers and results showed that “running significantly reduced osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk.” This was, in part, due to running’s association with a lower BMI (body mass index). Results also showed that other exercise increased osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk. However, according to additional studies, the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis are age and family history of the disease, not activity.

Understanding Damage

While running might not contribute to osteoarthritis (which is the main contributor for joint replacement), that doesn’t mean that you can’t damage your body by running. From stress to sprains to discomfort, running can damage the muscles and tissues surrounding your joints and isn’t always the best exercise for everyone. Those who have previous joint damage or are more than 20 pounds overweight should reconsider running as their main form of exercise. Other exercise options that are safer for your joints include biking, swimming and yoga.

Running Safely

As mentioned above, running can cause joint stress, sprains, injury and other discomfort if you aren’t cautious. It is important to run properly and take precautionary measures. Here are some of the best ways to prevent damage and stay healthy during your runs.

  1. Strengthen the muscles around the knee.
  2. Always stretch before and after running.
  3. If you are overweight, try other exercises to slim down before running.
  4. Wear proper running shoes.
  5. Focus on proper technique.
  6. Allow your body to recover with rest days.
  7. Do NOT run when injured.

Osteoarthritis Options

If you are already experiencing pain from arthritis and haven’t had success with over-the-counter medications or physical therapy, don’t think your last option is joint replacement. In fact, joint replacements are not permanent solutions to your joint pain as they usually only last between 10 and 20 years. At ARO, we perform minimally invasive surgeries to restore your active life. ARO’s revolutionary method maintains your natural joint while relieving your pain.

Interested in finding out more about our minimally invasive techniques? Contact us today and one of our agents will answer any questions you may have.  We look forward to speaking with you!