Is Running Bad for Your Knees?

There is no doubt that running puts stress on your knees. The repeated stress of loading your knees forcefully as you run has been thought in the past to damage cartilage and contribute to a risk of osteoarthritis in the knees and other joints.

However, there is significant evidence that this may not be the case for everyone. Instead, a number of the body’s compensating mechanism may actually lead to a reduction of osteoarthritis and joint damage, making running a great addition to most people’s fitness plan.

How the Body Responds to Stress

The body is a dynamic system, and it knows how to deal with stress. When you put your knees under stress, your body responds to compensate by building up muscle and adding bone strength. Although there is evidence that the knee cartilage itself may be damaged by running, it seems that the compensatory mechanisms of the muscles and the bones may mean this doesn’t actually negatively impact the functionality of your knees, which would explain why runners have lower rates of osteoarthritis and knee replacement.

Weight Matters

It’s also important to remember that the amount of stress you put on your knees is related to your weight. Weight loss will lead to lower amounts of force on your knees, and running is one of the best exercises for weight loss. However, this does mean that it might be best not to start off your new exercise program by trying to run. If you’re significantly overweight starting out with mostly low- or no-impact exercise might be a good idea, gradually moving to high-impact exercise as you begin to see weight loss results and want to improve them.

Genes Matter

Genetics may be just as important as anything else in determining whether running is bad for your knees or not. Genetics will determine how your body responds to stress on the knee joint, and it’s important to be aware of this. If your family has a history of knee problems, you should anticipate that you might, too, and it may not matter what kind of exercise you do.

If you would like to learn more about the science of exercise and talk to a doctor about what exercise might be best to help you achieve your weight loss goals, please contact Med-Fit Medical Weight Loss Clinic in the Stapleton area of Denver.

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Dr. Angela Tran