One of the most common things I hear when people learn that I joggle every day and have run 25+ marathons is, “Your knees must be shot!”
It reflects a common belief that running will ruin your knees. People think body parts are like car parts which will wear down with over use. But I’ve always thought the logic was flawed. While car parts & body parts do wear down, the body (unlike the car) has a self-repair mechanism that reverses damage. This is a key difference.
Studying the knees
Of course, I’m a runner so I wish that my belief that my knees will not be hurt by running is true. However, I try to to remain objective and follow what science has to say.
In the few studies I’ve read about the conclusion is this…running doesn’t hurt your knees.
Here is more scientific evidence that this is true. This New York Times story describes an MRI study done on marathon runners in 1997 and then again 10 years later.
They found that in 10 years of running there was no major internal damage to the knee joints. In fact, the knees of one participant who had stopped running were the only ones that got worse. The researchers concluded he would’ve been better off if he kept running.
Then a Standford study published in 2008 found that middle-aged long distance runners had healthier knees than the control group.
The bottom line from the most recent science is this…
Running can protect your knees from degradation.
Just one more reason to get out there and start joggling. Of course, if you’ve had knee problems in the past, talk to a doctor before starting any running program. One observation from many studies is that if you’ve had knee problems in the past, you may have them in the future.
Fortunately for me, I’ve never had a knee problem. Let’s hope it stays that way.