I’m a runner.
If you’re a runner then I can guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this in your lifetime – “running is bad for your knees.”
It could’ve been a friend, a family member, or even a well-intentioned healthcare professional.
You probably shrugged it off and decided it didn’t matter and went back to your running lifestyle.
BUT…have you ever wondered if it’s true?
It would make sense. Everytime you run you are compiling hundreds or thousands of jolts through your bones. That force has to go somewhere. Why wouldn’t it be going into the knees? It creates a nice simple equation: force + knees = damage.
Well…the verdict is…MYTH!
Not just a small myth either. This idea has been propagated REPEATEDLY and research has rebuked this idea REPEATEDLY.
Now, I could cite double digit articles that say running and damage to the knees are not correlated. Instead of sending you off to read a bunch of articles, I want to direct you to just one. This article is a systematic review, the most powerful form of research.
This type of research is the result of a formal gathering of all currently available research articles. This allows a more comprehensive look at what ALL of the research says instead of just an article or two.
The article is – Running and knee osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. It is the result of a search of all available research on the topic which resulted in the collection of 1,322 articles, of which 153 full-text articles were relevant. The final conclusions were…
- Moderate to low-quality evidence suggests no association with osteoarthritis diagnosis – simple conclusion here suggesting no connection between running and knee damage
- A positive association with osteoarthritis diagnosis – this simply means running means you’re more likely to have it diagnosed. This is likely because as soon as a runner has knee pains the healthcare professional is likely to diagnose osteoarthritis (a lot of other commentary on this will be saved for another day).
- Negative association with osteoarthritis surgery – this means that those who are runners are less likely to get surgery
Now, those conclusions are specifically written in a manner consistent with formal scientific inquiry, but in simple terms says that these researchers were unable to correlate running with damage to someone’s knees.
Now, next time someone tells you that running is bad for your knees you can either shrug them off or educate them to the contrary. Whatever you choose, you can walk away knowing that when you go out for your run later that day, you won’t be damaging your knees.