Does Running Cause Osteoarthritis?

Running is one of the best physical activities to promote mental and physical well-being. Running helps in burning the excess calories and also helps in strengthening muscles. One more important advantage of it includes a better cardiovascular health.

The benefits are plenty. However, Certain observations have found the dark side of running. Many believe that running long distances leads to increased possibilities of developing “Osteoarthritis“.

What is Osteoarthritis?

A rubbery collagen tissue called articular cartilage is present at end of the bones in our joints. This tissue-

  • absorbs shock,
  • distributes stress equally
  • and also helps in avoiding friction between bones during movement.

When you start running, there is a huge force is exerted on your knee and hip force. The cartilage makes sure that the two ends of both hip and knee move without any obstructions.

In the recent years, due to the increasing stress and overuse, this fragile cartilage becomes stiff and less rubbery. With the mean time, it starts to wear out. This affects the bone present beneath it. Due to this the body is forced to overproduce bones called osteophytes. These bony projections enter the join space.

This condition is known as osteoarthritis. Symptoms of it include- Pain, swelling, stiffness, difficulty in movement.

Does Running cause Osteoarthritis In Knee Or Hip?

So let’s come to the focal point of the article i.e.- Does Running lead to this condition? The answer to this is..

Running as a regular exercise does not increase a person’s risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. Also, it may even help prevent a person from developing the painful disease.

Osteoarthritis is a common form of OA. It is usually caused by cartilage breakdown in the knee or hip region. Factors that usually lead to this include-

  • Overweight
  • Age
  • Injury
  • Stress on the joints
  • Family history



While there is no concrete evidence about running leading to Osteoarthritis, In the long run it may cause problems. This is when running can prove to be a risk factor for you-

  • When the area is already injured,
  • Obesity, Overusing of joints,
  • Bad form while running etc.

In these cases,the runners need to run moderate distances. The running sessions should include proper rest. The nutrition needs to be optimum. Although running does not cause Osteoarthritis, But still be careful to enjoy the fruits of running!

Originally published at on September 20, 2016.

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