Could running improve your knees?

Running might not be bad for knees after all, study shows


It’s accepted wisdom that running with ruin your knees, degenerating kneecap cartilage and reducing its shock-absorbing capacity. Yet a recent study suggests runners might not be prone to degenerating knees after all, the New York Times reports. In the 2008 study, a team from Stanford University followed distance runners over 20 years, starting in 1984, when most were in their 50s or 60s. Among the group, 6.7 per cent of the runners had severely arthritic knees, while 10 per cent of the control group did. After 20 years, the runners’ knees actually improved: only 20 per cent showed arthritic changes, versus 32 per cent of the control group’s knees. About two per cent of the runners’ knees were severely arthritic, compared to almost 10 per cent in the control group. Running could shield against arthritis, it seems, partly because the knee develops a motion groove. Another Stanford study, published in February, showed that walking or running can “condition” the cartilage to the load, making it accustomed to the movements. But if it’s disturbed, generally by an injury, loading mechanisms shift and a degenerative pathway opens.

The New York Times

Filed under:

Could running improve your knees?

  1. IT would be good to know if the runners were trail or pavement runners. The impact from hard surfaces, such as concrete or other pavements is harder on the knees than than dirt from a trail.

  2. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, but it sure worked for me. I was having increasing knee and lower back pain about five years ago, so I decided to try running once again – I had failed at getting into a proper running routine a couple of times because of the severe knee pain I was experiencing. So after about a month of just running through the pain (yes I know the experts suggest to stop if it is really painful) and taking a regular dose of NSAIDs, I was able to run pain free. I am now almost entirely free of back pain and the knee pain I only get with severe changes in the weather.

  3. I'm an avid runner now and I think the weight I have lost since will help my knees greatly, regardless of the studies findings.

  4. I don't know how my knees could get much prettier.