Will Running Ruin Your Knees?

In a recent article published in Lifehacker, Will Running Ruin Your Knees? 8/4/21, An orthopedic specialist was interviewed and cited studies suggesting the runners had no increased risk of arthritis and that in fact runners may have a lower risk of osteoarthritis compared to non-runners. Also, in a recent article in Runners World Magazine, May 2020, published by the editors, a similar opinion was reported.

We asked Gregory Montalbano, MD Orthopedic surgeon at iOrtho and faculty member NYU School of Medicine his opinion on this topic.

“It is true what is reported in both articles to the extent that you can find studies that conclude running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis and also studies that report some evidence that it actually has a protective effect on the knees.”

“However, this is sort of cherry picking the literature and the discussion is not balanced unless you also consider the studies that show significantly higher risks of osteoarthritis and also higher risk of joint replacement in athletes as well as studies that show no increased risk of OA when running at a recreational level but a significantly increased risk when running at a competitive level.”

“Based on my review of the literature it is not a simple association or lack of association answer. It is my opinion that an exercise that may be healthy for one person at a certain frequency and level of intensity may be unhealthy for another. In regard to the activity of running I believe the level of risk for knee injury relates primarily to the individual body type and also frequency and intensity of the activity.”

“For example what I would consider to be a safe level of running for a 20s and 30s that has ideal mechanical alignment, ideal BMI, has trained properly and has no family history of knee osteoarthritis is not the same recommendation I might give to someone in their 40s and 50s with poor alignment, is overweight and has poor muscle development and a strong family history of knee problems.  I think in the first case the risk of injury is low but in the latter case the risk of knee injury is relatively high in which case the frequency and intensity of the running needs to be adjusted or may not be a healthy form of exercise at all.”

“Although I agree that running as an exercise can be beneficial for many people and I am not discouraging it, it’s important to be mindful of the possibility of injury. Some people are genetically endowed and just naturally built to run injury free and other people may not be and that is not something to feel bad about. Ignoring body morphology and genetics is likely only to wind up causing injury. There are many ways to exercise and everyone should pursue an exercise regimen that is appropriate for their unique body.”

Learn more about iOrtho online at www.iorthomd.com

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