As our city consists of millions of weekend warriors and draws thousands to races year-round, it’s not uncommon to hear runners worrying about how their favorite exercise is affecting their knees.
Knee cartilage degeneration from years of pounding the pavement makes intuitive sense--there are few activities that require you to absorb the shock of 2.5-5 times your body weight repetitively like running does. For people who do get diagnosed with knee arthritis, it can be a helpful coping mechanism to come up with a reason why they developed the disease.
Healthcare professionals, prominent athletes, and media outlets are also guilty of promoting this conventional narrative of running causing the “bone on bone” epidemic we are experiencing as the baby boomer generation enters retirement age.
However, academic research on this topic has painted a different picture of the relationship between running and knee arthritis:
Reviews (1) of longitudinal studies (2) that track knee arthritis over years in several thousand individuals found that it was no more likely for the people that developed painful and x-ray confirmed knee arthritis to have been runners.
One study (3) that prospectively compared a group of 45 active long-distance runners over the age 50 with age and gender-matched controls also found that the subjects in the running group were no more likely to develop arthritis or have a more rapid rate of progression of the disease.
Running reduces inflammatory chemicals associated with arthritis. The results from this study was picked up by the New York Times (4) and Time magazine.
One of the strongest risk factors for knee arthritis is obesity (5). This fact also strengthens the argument that running should be given greater consideration to prevent arthritis.
Even if the fact that the media is now starting to question running as a cause of arthritis should give relief to people that love to run or are interested in starting, the level of impact involved shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Running remains a very strenuous activity with lots of potential for injury.
Whether it’s diagnosing a fault in mechanics using research-grade technology or taking some of the impact away with Alter-G anti gravity treadmills, our clinic is uniquely qualified to help keep runners in the New York area moving.
Contact us today for more information on Knee Arthritis and how we can help!