Why Running Won’t Give You Arthritis Of The Knees

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(credit: Dr Dave Hnida)

(credit: Dr Dave Hnida)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorIf you’re like most people, you probably think pounding the pavement will beat the heck out of a runner’s knees. But new research says quite the contrary– running is actually knee-healthy.

Doesn’t seem to makes sense, does it? After all, that pounding has got to wear away the cartilage that lines the knee joints.

But one large study of more than 75,000 runners shows a lower rate of knee arthritis compared to people who don’t run. Now another study offers a couple of reasons why. The study comes from Queen’s University in Ontario.

First some stats:

The act of a foot and leg hitting the ground when walking puts double your body weight on the knee joints.

Running, on the other hand, running  puts 8x your body weight on the knees.

Yet here’s the kicker: brief moments of repetitive strikes — as in running — actually stimulates the knee cartilage to repair itself, and prevents it from wearing away. Plus the amount of time the leg is actually in contact with the ground is a lot less than with walking.

Plus, all of that exercise builds up the muscles that surround the knees — and that muscle strength takes pressure off of the joint. (So you can’t use the argument that channel-surfing is healthier than walking or running.)

Now, if you already have knee arthritis and you take up running, you may not get the protection that other joggers get. Plus, there are also the issues such as tendonitis, etc. from overuse.

But all in all, when you do the math, look at the X-rays, and listen to complaints of pain — runners win the battle of the knees by a mile.

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