This is probably one of the most common myths in the world of running and one which nearly every runner will have heard at least once (invariably from people who don’t run)
Quite often, clients I have trained for the half and full marathons have expressed concern that they will do irreparable damage to their knees, ankles and hips from the constant pounding their joints are exposed to while running. This concern is often compounded by ‘supportive’ friends who say they’ve heard that running ruins the knees and it would be best if you gave it up. As a running addict you may mull over this option, and consider giving up……..on the day hell freezes over!
If our Creator (whoever that may be) made our joints so badly and highly susceptible to injury and joint degeneration, why are there still hundreds of thousands of men and women, well into their retirement years, still running on a regular basis?
The view that running is going to cripple us and leave us needing a walking stick when we’re in our 60’s is not only inaccurate but, contrary what your non-running friends tell you, the complete opposite of the truth.
It is a proven scientific fact that weight-bearing exercise such as running, done in moderation, actually helps to keep bones strong, thereby reducing our chances of becoming crippled later on in life. A comprehensive study published last year assessing a massive 75,000 runners,,concluded that running significantly reduced the risk of Osteoarthritis in later life. To read the details of this study click here.
Of course, the beauty of science is that most studies are contradicted and disproved by someone, but a study involving 75,000 runners is as comprehensive as you’ll find, so the findings should be taken seriously.
For the small, hard-core section of the running community who live their lives for running and regularly cover in excess of 100 miles a week, I would certainly support the theory that this extreme training “could” to lead to some kind of joint problems, but it’s by no means a certainty. As with everything in life, anything in moderation, including moderation is unlikely to do you harm. Take it to extremes, however, and you are tempting fate.
So, whether you are just a casual/social runner or planning to train for a marathon, there is no reason to believe that you are increasing your chances of contracting Osteoarthritis now or any time in the future. Naturally, the unlucky few with a genetic predisposition for weak joints might be forced to end their running careers prematurely, but for the majority of people, there is no reason why running cannot be enjoyed pain-free, right into retirement years.
So get out there and Run Happy!