Does running really wear out your knees?

Have you ever heard someone say,
“Stop running or you’ll wear your knees out!”

We hear this idea from our clients all the time.

The thing is current scientific evidence consistently shows there is no association between walking, running and common recreational sports and the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

So we don’t believe running will “wear out” your knees.

Other risk factors like obesity or previous injuries are far more likely to have a negative effect over time. Even if you have these it usually won’t mean you need to stop exercising but you could need additional advice on the best way forward.

Research supports the idea of a “u-shaped” relationship between physical activity and structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis. This means that people with either very low or very high physical activity levels may have the greatest risk of further degeneration. By contrast people with moderate levels of activity may be in the sweet spot with the lowest risk of further.

For the walkers out there
It is recommended that people with knee osteo arthritis go for a 30 minute brisk walk 5 times per week. Brisk walking refers to a walking cadence of at least 100 steps/minute or a walking speed of 4 km per hour.

For the Runners out there
Recreational running of 30km per week (approximately 250 minutes per week) is not associated with increased risk of structural progression of knee osteoarthritis. There is also evidence that running may be beneficial for the knee joint. Consequently, it is advocated that people with knee osteoarthritis who were already runners should be encouraged to continue running.

And this advice is for those who already have knee arthritis!

SO if you don’t have knee issues yet….. just keep running!

If you’d like specific advice or are getting knee pain with your running or walking then come to us and get some advice to help you continue to keep active.

Reference: Voinier D, White D (2022) Walking, running, and recreational sports for knee osteoarthritis: An overview of the evidence. European Journal of Rheumatology. Epub ahead of print.