Myths Perpetuated by Healthcare Providers: Running is Bad for the Knees and Hips

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For more information, click on one of the topics below:

Does Long-Distance Running cause Osteoarthritis?

Most studies have shown that hip and knee arthritis is not more common in recreational runners. A study in 2017 combined and analyzed the data of 17 previous studies, to compare the rates of hip and knee arthritis in recreational, competitive, and non-runners. The study found that:

recreational runner

Recreational runners had a lower rate of arthritis, 3.5%.

competitive / elite runner

Competitive runners had a rate of 13.3%.

non-runner

and non-runners/sedentary individuals had a rate of 10.2%.

Competitive runners were professional or elite athletes, or participated in international competitions. The results show that a long duration of elite level running, or a sedentary lifestyle, are both linked with higher rates of knee and/or hip arthritis. It is not possible to determine if the running caused these results, or if they were also impacted by other factors. However, this study shows that running at a recreational level does not increase the risk of hip and knee arthritis. (1)

Is running harmful for your joints if you’re overweight?

Sometimes we may hear people saying that running may be especially harmful for your joints if you are overweight. However, a study done in 2016 found that at a participants chosen running speed, overweight runners adopted strategies to reduce stress on their joints. These strategies included

The study concluded that overweight runners who participate in moderate to vigorous running are equally as safe and effective as the general population in following an appropriate running program. (8)