I hear it often, “running is bad for my joints.” Every time I hear it, I die a little inside. Today, I started to wonder, where does this thought process come from? How in the world did this start? So I did some research and this is what I came up with…
I honestly could not figure it out. I went back all the way to 1986 to gently review some of the literature and guess what, the conclusions were pretty clear:
“We did not find an increased prevalence of osteoarthritis among the runners. Our observations suggest, within the limits of our study, that long-duration, high-mileage running need not be associated with premature degenerative joint disease in the lower extremities.” (Panush et al 1986)
“In summary, running did not accelerate the development of radiographic or clinical OA of the knees.” (Lane et al 1993)
“persons who engage in vigorous running and other aerobic activities have lower mortality and slower development of disability than do members of the general population.” (Fries et al 1994)
“Vigorous running activity over many years is not associated with an increase in musculoskeletal pain with age, and there may be a moderate decrease in pain, particularly in women. Vigorous physical activity is associated with greatly decreased levels of disability and with decreased mortality rates.” (Fries et al 1996)
“The presence of radiographic hip OA and the progression of radiographic knee OA was similar for older runners and nonrunners.” (Lane et al 1998)
“We conclude that adequate endurance training results in adaptation mechanisms that allow the athlete to compensate for the stresses introduced by long distance running and do not predispose to the onset of osteoarthritis” (Hohmann et al 2005)
“it appears that long-distance running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis of the knees and hips for healthy people who have no other counterindications for this kind of physical activity. Long-distance running might even have a protective effect against joint degeneration” (Cymet et al 2006)
“There is no increased risk of symptomatic knee OA among self-selected runners compared with nonrunners in a cohort recruited from the community. In those without OA, running does not appear to be detrimental to the knees.” (Lo et al ,2017)
Alright, I think you get the idea. Research seems to have shown, for a LONG TIME, the positive impact running can have on our bodies, on our joints, and on our health overall. My call to you, is to STOP saying it’s bad for you because it simply is not necessary. We are designed to run, to move, to dance, to use the amazing bodies we have to their fullest potential. We should not fear what our bodies are capable of doing and we should put them into action because it appears research is showing us, that our bodies will love us for it. And as I sit here on the couch watching snow fall in Seattle, while recovering from a virus that has laid me up for 72 hours, I can only imagine how great it’s going to feel to hit the pavement again....
“Ships are safest in the harbour, but that is not what they are designed for” - Anonymous
Dr. Ellie Somers
Panush RS, et al. Is running associated with degenerative joint disease? JAMA. 1986 Mar 7;255(9):1152-4
Lane NE, et al. The risk of osteoarthritis with running and aging: a 5 year longitudinal study. J Rheumatol. 1993 Mar;20(3):461-8.
Fries JF, et al. Running and development of disability with age. Ann Intern Med. 1994 Oct 1;121(7):502-9
Fries JF, et al. Relationship of running to musculoskeletal pain with age: a six-year longitudinal study. Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Jan;39(1):64-72
Lane NE, et al. The relationship of running to osteoarthritis of the knee and hip and bone mineral density of the lumbar spine: a 9-year longitudinal study. J Rheumatol. 1998 Feb;25(2):334-41.
Hohmann E, et al. Osteoarthritis from long distance running? Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2005 Jun;19(2):89-93.
Cymet TC, et al. Does long distance running cause osteoarthritis? J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Jun;106(6):342-5.
Lo GH, et al. Is there an association between a history of running and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis? A cross-sectional study from the osteoarthritis initiative. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Feb;69(2):183-191.