Running does not cause osteoarthritis

The most common myth you hear out in the world about knee osteoarthritis is that running and jogging is what does you in. “It’s all the shock,” doctors say. “It’s just too much wear and tear,” friends say. Did you know that this conventional wisdom is actually wrong?

We recently posted a link on our Upright Health Facebook Page to an article in Proto Magazine, Osteoarthritis: Why Joints Fail, that discusses the modern research being done that shows that, contrary to popular belief, it’s not the running that’s doing you in.

Several studies have found that a lifetime of running—a perfect test for the “wear and tear” theory of osteoarthritis—doesn’t increase risk for the condition. In the most recent, published in 2008, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine began tracking the health of 45 long-distance runners (average age: 58) in 1984. Nearly 20 years later, X-rays showed their joints were unaffected. “We can find no evidence whatsoever that there’s an increase in knee destruction in people who run for thousands and thousands of miles,” says study co-author James Fries, professor emeritus of immunology and rheumatology.

The rest of the article talks about various different avenues that are under investigation for the biochemical causes of osteoarthritis if you’d like to read it, but the big takeaway is this: running is not the villain. If you find running to be tough on your joints, don’t blame the activity itself.

As someone who used to be unable to walk down stairs without sharp pinching pain in my knee, let me tell you this: figure out what your body is trying to tell you and then address the problem carefully and logically!


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.