Does Running Cause Knee Osteoarthritis?
Knee arthritis is a common condition among older adults leading to increased knee pain and decreased participation in recreational and sporting activities. A incorrect, but commonly held belief is exercise may lead to further arthritis or knee damage due to a "wear and tear" effect. This outdated line of thought has been disproven by many research studies documenting a beneficial not harmful effect of exercise on both young and old knee joints. Unfortunately, the myth of exercise causing knee arthritis remains especially in regards to sports including running.
A recent study by Lo and colleagues should finally put this myth to rest (Arthritis Care and Research 2016). Authors studied over 2500 participants to retrospectively identify risk factors which were associated with the eventual development of knee arthritis. Among these individuals, 30% had run at some time in their lives. The authors reported no increased risk of knee arthritis among the running participants compared to their age matched peers. They concluded that running does not appear to be detrimental to the knees.