The most common reason my patients have for not running is that they are worried about knee pain.
But the truth is, studies have shown that runners have no more complaints of pain and swelling of the knees or hips than non-runners. In fact, the impact of running helps to signal the cells that create knee cartilage to make more. Decreased joint use from a sedentary lifestyle actually causes the opposite – loss of cartilage structure and remodeling. The impact of running is also associated with increased bone density, which prevents osteoporosis and low-impact fractures later in life.
It is important to note that elite runners who run many high intensity miles in their careers have been found to have an increased risk of degenerative joint disease. Torn cartilage from impact injuries such as falls and knee surgeries is associated with increased arthritis later in life. Obesity is also a risk factor for arthritis and even a small weight loss of 10 pounds can improve knee pain and future risk.
If you do have knee pain when running I recommend two things – a visit to a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist and a stop at your local specialty running store for a gait analysis. Knee pain is often due to muscle imbalances or anatomical abnormalities than can be fixed with strength training and correct footwear.
Knee pain takeaways:
- Running moderate distances is protective against arthritis.
- Trauma and cartilage damage are risk factors for arthritis and knee pain.
- Running can prevent osteoporosis and fractures.
- Weight loss can improve knee pain and prevent arthritis.
- High mileage and high intensity competitive running is associated with arthritis in the knees and hips.
- If you are having knee pain, consult a sports medicine doctor and have your gait analyzed at a specialty running store.
Running Recipe- Energy Bites
You will need:
½ c. peanut or other nut butter
½ c. dried fruit – I used cranberries
2 T. honey
½ c. oatmeal
1 c. slivered almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well mixed and moistened.
- Form into 16 balls and refrigerate until you are ready to eat them!
Nutrition info (per ball): 140 calories | 7.7g fat | 15.1g carbohydrates | 3.5g protein
Kelly (Egan) Huibregtse is a guest blogger for Brooks, as well as a member of our Inspire Daily program. Look for more posts from her on running myths in the coming months. Kelly is pediatric resident in San Francisco, CA. So far this year, she has volunteered in India, graduated from medical school, gotten married, and moved across the country to start her first job – in that order. To follow her adventures, visit runningblonde.com.