The big question....Does running cause osteoarthritis of the hip or knee?


Still to this day, I have patients tell me they do not run because it's bad for our knees and hips, and I fire it back at them and ask why they think that is. 100% of the time it is based on the opinion that 'it has to be because of the impact', and have been told if they wanted to avoid an early joint replacement then they should stop running.


Whenever you hear such statements, you should question it, and ask if it is backed up by scientific trials. There is no absolute in the scientific world, and reasoning seems to change all the time, but the more trials that take place, the more we can reinforce or negate ideas we have.


So, does the science reinforce the notion that running causes osteoarthritis of the hip or knee?NO!!! 25 studies, which included 125,810 people were reviewed, and concluded only 3.5% of recreational runners had hip or knee osteoarthritis, in both male and females groups. Interestingly, sedentary individuals had a higher rate (10.2%) of osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. There was however a 13.3% incidence of osteoarthritis in elite, ex-elite, or professional level athletes, but this is running over 57 miles a week!


Exercise is medicine, and is fantastic for our overall health, specifically for our heart, lungs, muscles, bones and brains. Running can help with weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, boost the immune system, fight depression, reduce stress, and improve mood. Why wouldn't you want to grab your trainers and get outside?!


So the next time someone says running is bad for you, you can enlighten them with scientific evidence that this is not the case!


Running and Osteoarthritis: Does recreational or competitive running increase the risk? Journal and Sports Physical Therapy. 47: (6) 391.