March 24, 2017
Is Running Good for Your Knees?

By Mike Verplancke DPT

Running gets a bad rap, being blamed for every possible ache and pain and injury in the body.  It has been proven that regular exercise is good for your joints, protecting them against degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis, and generally improving your quality of life.  But, running seems to be especially harsh to joints, particularly the knees.  While we all know running helps your cardiovascular health, the question is this:  

What does running really do to our knees? 
Recent studies may shed some light. One study comparing nearly 500 runners against sedentary individuals found that the runners did not suffer any more degenerative joint problems than the “couch potatoes” [1].  They found that runners developed musculoskeletal problems more slowly and that they had 40% more bone calcium than the others!  Let’s not forget that high impact exercise and strength training makes and keeps bones strong, and this is just one study.  Many studies repeatedly find that running does not contribute to the degeneration of the knees. 

 In fact, one study looked at former varsity runners and swimmers and found the incidence of arthritis to be exactly the same between the two groups even though running is high impact and swimming is no impact [2].  Another even larger study again confirms that running does not contribute to any osteoarthritis in your knees [3].

Knee PainThere’s even better news. An article from 2016 states that running is actually good for your knees.  It points out that chronic, low-grade inflammation leads to the degeneration of joints.  The good news is that running appears to decrease inflammation in knees by reducing “pro-inflammatory cytokines” [4].  The movement and impact actually sends these molecules away, keeping inflammation down, and improving joint health.

Keep the pains away and keep running.

With all of this positive press, you can rest assured that you are not causing any damage to your knees.  If you aren’t a runner, you may even be tempted to pick it up!  Pains and Strains is here to keep you moving.  We offer a variety of products to help you train.  Our Strength and Stretch plans are specially developed by me for maximum effect in the least amount of time.  With a stretch strap and a variety of exercise bands, you can build strength in your muscles to support your joints and develop a full range of motion. 

If you over train, our Fast Freeze spray is here to quickly decrease any muscular pain that may come.  Finally, we have Freeze Sleeves in a variety of shapes and sizes to further reduce pain while you stay active and complete your daily activities.  Pains and Strains is here to help you achieve your exercise goals, as well as assist you in the event of an injury.  Have fun on your jog today!


  * This post is designed for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician before beginning any program. 

[1] Simon, H. B. (2002). On call. I've taken up running, and I've lost 10 pounds and gained lots of energy. My knees feel fine, but I worry: is running safe for my joints?. Harvard Men's Health Watch, 6(10), 8.

[2] Sohn, R. S., & Micheli, L. J. (1985). The effect of running on the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis of the hips and knees. Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research, (198), 106-109.

[3] Lo, G. H., Driban, J. B., Kriska, A. M., McAlindon, T. E., Souza, R. B., Petersen, N. J., & ... Suarez-Almazor, M. E. (2016). History of Running is Not Associated with Higher Risk of Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis: A Cross-Sectional Study from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care & Research, doi:10.1002/acr.22939

[4] Hyldahl, R. D., Evans, A., Kwon, S., Ridge, S. T., Robinson, E., Hopkins, J. T., & Seeley, M. K. (2016). Running decreases knee intra-articular cytokine and cartilage oligomeric matrix concentrations: a pilot study. European Journal Of Applied Physiology, 116(11-12), 2305-2314.

Joe McClung

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