Is Running Bad For Your Joints?

Will running and other ground exercises wear my joints down more?

In one word……. No!

But let’s discuss this in more detail.

Have you heard someone saying not to run on the road because it is bad for your joints? Or perhaps your knees get a little sore from time to time and you don’t like going for long walks because you’re getting older and you think this will increase the inevitable wear & tear? 

This most certainly isn’t the case; yes, there will be some cases where you may need to ease off the running/walking because you have pain but not for the reasons above. In fact, loading your joints can actually help prevent the dreaded “wear & tear”.

Mechanically loading your joints with exercise will help prevent cartilage degeneration. Recent research has shown that running can actually decrease your chances of osteoarthritis! In fact, most tissues in your body will adapt to the load that is applied to them. See the photo below for some eye-opening points:

Of course, the key to exercise and loading your muscles/joints etc is that it is optimal – it has to be slow and progressive. We want to stay away from too-much-too-soon syndrome!

Common causes of joint pain are not doing enough regular exercise and/or irregularly trying to do much more than your body is used to. So, exercise, including exercising on hard surfaces is not bad for your joints.

The real issue is if our body doesn’t have the strength/flexibility to do these specific tasks or if we are moving our bodies in a certain way that can load up some joints or even parts of some joints more than others. An example of this is – stiffness in your ankle can lead to you overloading your knee more while you are walking; the problem isn’t that walking is causing wear & tear in your knee, the problem is your stiff ankle.

Another example is – if you tend to take really long strides when you are running (maybe because that’s how your PE teacher taught you how to run) and you are getting knee pain, this can be altered by shortening your strides and changing which muscles are being used to not overload your knee. These are just 2 examples of dozens of possibilities.

At APC physio & sports clinics we offer a range of fitness training options to suit your needs.

This programme is specific to people who run and want to;

  • improve their times
  • train a little harder
  • Stop cramping in longer races
  • Reduce recurrent injuries
  • Improve running mechanics
  • Learn how to train smarter not harder
  • Work on power and speed

Watch our video on improved acceleration and increased top end speed! Click the button to view.

Doing some light pain-free stretching
You can arrange a group or one-to-one session to suit your requirements.

During our physiotherapy appointments we look not just at the site of pain, but the whole body; we assess for weaknesses & stiffness and look at how your body moves through specific tasks/exercises. We use this information to get you looser, stronger & moving the best way you can. We also run classes to help address these issues. You can find out more here.

So, to summarise, running and other ground exercise will not wear you joints down if the body is prepared for the task and it is progressed slowly. Yes, sometimes we would advise people to reduce or stop running etc, but we could just as easy tell somebody to reduce/stop swimming. 

Key takeaway – don’t be afraid of the hard ground. Your joints can handle it!

If you have any other queries or you are not quite sure where to begin, feel free to contact us online herevia email, or over the phone.

You can also avail of a free 15-minute physio consultation in the clinic with one of our physiotherapists if you’re not sure where to begin.

You can book online here. Or Give us a call on 02535015 Fermoy Main Office or APC Cork, Club Vitae Clinic calls can be made to 085 7740559 today to talk through any questions and concerns you may have. Thanks for reading!