If you are a runner, you probably have heard this, and if you are not running, you probably have said: “Running is terrible for your knees”. But, let’s not hurry: Research shows that running not only does not hurt on the knees, but actually helps them.
Although this data surprised many people, this is not something new for scientists. As early as the 1980s, studies showed that running was not associated with knee arthritis, nor with any kind of degenerative ankle disease. However, the researchers were not sure why this is so. It is possible that there were other reasons: runners usually have less pounds, which reduces the risk of knee problems. But other researchers thought that running plays a major role in this.
A study published in 2016 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, for male and female runners, was given 30 minutes to run on a treadmill or to spend that time sitting in silence. Each participant then did the opposite day the opposite day. Before and after each session, the researchers took blood and synovial fluid – the substance that lubricates your bruises.
They then analyzed several elements of it, including knee-inflammatory cells and a substance called the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein, which is often used as an arthritis marker. The results were quite dramatic: after running, the participants’ knees contained fewer cells associated with inflammation. Plus, the level of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein has been reduced, as running has helped them to eject part of the substance associated with arthritis. After sitting, those inflammatory cells increased, and the level of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein increased. Robert Haidal, the research leader, concluded that moderate running can not harm healthy knees and possibly offers protection.
Then why my knees hurt?
It is common for runners, especially those who have recently started running, to experience pain in the knees. But that pain rarely comes from the decay of their bumps and has simple solutions. For example, a study conducted by women who have a “racing knee” syndrome showed that with a 8-week program focused on strengthening the hips, the core and muscles of the legs, they can reduce pain and improve the ability to run . Together with weak muscles, other culprits for knee pain are often old sneakers or forcing to run more miles than we really can. Of course, if the pain does not pass, we advise you to go to a doctor. But do not let fear of knee injury prevent you from running. In fact, running can keep your knees in excellent condition.