Is Running Bad for Me? A Look at How Running Can Impact Your Joints (Or Not)

Most of us know that movement and exercise provide many overall health benefits. But, some of us still worry whether specific types of exercise can potentially be harmful for our bodies. Running tends to be an exercise that causes people to worry about the impact of it on their long-term joint health. Have you ever asked yourself “will I get arthritis if I keep running?” Lots of well-meaning friends and relatives may even tell you that you’ll ruin your knees if you keep it up… 

Luckily, there is now evidence to help us understand the answer to this question. The answer is not quite as simple as“yes or no.” Let’s start with the average non-runner. The risk of developing arthritis in the hip or knee for this individual is around 10%. However, the risk of a recreational runner developing hip and knee arthritis is about 3-4%. This means that if you are participating in a recreational running program then you tend to have a lower chance of developing arthritis to your hip or knee. It’s also important to note that individuals who are “elite” or “competitive” runners and have run at a collegiate or professional level can tend to have up to a 13% chance of developing arthritis.

So, running at a recreational level is safely recommended as a general exercise and can potentially reduce your risk of developing hip or knee arthritis compared to sedentary individuals. Runners who participate at the higher-demand elite and competitive levels may have a slightly increased risk of developing arthritis, compared to non-runners.

If you are a runner of any level, call the expert physical therapists at Body One Physical Therapy to discuss your current running plan and allow us to screen you for potential injury risk so we can help keep you on the road (or trail). We can’t promise to make you an elite runner, but we can promise to work with you on problems that may be holding you back! We’re locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Indy/Carmel, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t wait, improve this running season with the pros at Body One on your side!



Reference: “The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(6):373-390. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.7137