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Running Is Bad For Your Joints - True or False?

columbus dr. andrew endurance knee pain performance physical therapy rehab running speed & agility May 08, 2023

If you are a runner, it is very likely that you have suffered an injury at some point in your training. After suffering an injury, you most likely turn to your general practitioner or other medical professional for guidance on how to alleviate your pain and get back to doing what you love.

Unfortunately, the story I hear far too often is that the advice from medical professionals is to stop running. The reason that is often given is that “running is bad for your joints” (knees, hips, ankles, etc.). Running being “bad for your joints” is usually an association with arthritis in your joints. Arthritis, more specifically osteoarthritis, is the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. This is usually characterized by stiffness, pain, and swelling in one or multiple joints. So, what does the research and data show?

With running being such a popular form of exercise, it is only logical to think that we have some data about the long-term effects of running on our joints. There is plenty of research out there that looks at the prevalence of arthritis for people who are recreational runners. These studies have not shown any conclusive evidence that recreational runners were more likely to have arthritis in their hips and knees.

A meta-analysis of all the research out there which included over 200,000 people looked at three different categories of people: recreational runners, elite/professional runners, and sedentary people. When comparing these three groups the researcher showed that recreational runners had the lowest incident of osteoarthritis (3.5%). Competitive runners showed an incidence rate of 13.5% and sedentary people showed an incidence rate of 10.2%.

The most important conclusion of this study is that you are almost 3x more likely to experience arthritis in your knees and hips if you are sedentary than if you are a recreational runner. So, next time someone tells you that “running is bad for your joints,” you can confidently tell them that there is nothing to support that statement.

If you’re someone looking to get into strength training but don’t know where to start, or you’re dealing with any sort of injury limiting you from doing the things you love, give Athletes' Potential a call at 470-355-2106 or fill out a contact request form at the link below and we will reach out to you.


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Thanks for reading,

Dr. Andrew


Alentorn-Geli, E., Samuelsson, K., Musahl, V., Green, C. L., & Karlsson, J. (2017). The Association of
Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and
Meta-analysis. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy.

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