Worried running will ruin your knees and hips?

Many people avoid running because they think it causes wear and tear on their joints, especially as they get older. But the medical literature doesn’t support the idea that running causes osteoarthritis.

“Running moderate distances at moderate speeds is not likely to cause joint arthritis, especially if one runs in good running shoes and uses good running technique,” says Dr. Stuart Willick, an associate professor at the University of Utah Orthopaedic Center in Salt Lake City.


Willick and colleagues gathered all published studies that explored a possible link between running and osteoarthritis. They found that several things put people more at risk for osteoarthritis as they age: Being overweight, prior injuries to the knees or hips, and heavy manual labour are riskier for the joints than pounding the pavement. Jogging got a thumbs up.

“Running is a great form of cardiovascular exercise,” Willick told Metro. “Cardiovascular and resistance training have numerous benefits, including for the heart, lungs, blood vessels, bones, joints, muscles and brain.”

Older runners tend to be healthier than non-running counterparts, the study found.

The team published their review last year in the journal Clinics in Sports Medicine.

Running tips

Here are Willick’s tips on preventing joint damage from running.

  • When starting a running program, increase mileage and speed gradually.

  • Consider getting a running evaluation to make sure your running gait is sound.

  • Wear the right running shoes for your feet and running style.

  • Get new shoes every 321 to 482 km.

  • Run on soft surfaces.

  • Cross-train. Work on flexibility, strength and endurance.

  • Rehabilitate all running injuries completely.

  • Maintain optimal BMI and nutritional status

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