Runners and Knee Problems: Myth or Truth?
*Disclaimer: I have partnered with Dartmouth-Hitchcock for a series of wellness discussions. We have experience using Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for our family healthcare needs. All opinions expressed here are my own.
I am a longtime runner and one of the things that I am often asked is ‘aren’t you worried that all of those miles will cause you to have knee problems?’ Thankfully, I have never had any issues with my knees from running and now scientific studies are proving that running is not a major cause of knee problems. This is a longtime myth that has caused unnecessary worry for many runners.
Scientific studies have shown that osteoarthritis is the main cause of knee trouble and according to Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Rheumatologist Alicia Zbehlik, MD, MPH, “research continues to show that running does not ruin your knees or cause osteoarthritis; in fact, it may actually protect your knees.” Despite what people formerly thought, staying active and movement actually helps to keep knees healthy. Having a healthy BMI also plays a role in preventing osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Zbhelik from DHMC, “A runner tends to be leaner on average and the lower BMI puts less strain on the knee. Weight is the number one modifiable risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. The higher the weight, the higher the risk.”
This is all great news if you love logging miles and miles running your way through life!
Keep knee pain away
Here are some ways that you can help to keep your knees healthy so that you can stay active and keep running, according to Dartmouth-Hitchcock:
- Running form is key! Proper running form can protect your joints.
- Vary the surface that you run on. Trail running can be a great option as trails provide a much softer surface for lower impact than pavement.
- Gradually increase your mileage! If you decide to train for a longer distance, your mileage build up. Long runs should not be too quick or you risk overloading your joints.
- Practice stability workouts to strengthen muscles such as the quadriceps that support the your knee joints. Practicing stability exercises will have a positive impact on keep your joints healthy and pain free!
I am thankful that I have had no hints of knee pain at all. However I do practice dynamic warm-ups and work hard to do stability exercises to keep my joints supported.
To find out more about keeping knee pain away and preventing osteoarthritis read: ‘Does the wear and tear of running cause arthritis?’ a series of health and wellness stories on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website.