Running is healthy for your knees

The tra­di­tion­al argu­ment against run­ning was that the pound­ing of run­ning com­pacts your knee car­ti­lage and speeds up the process of arthri­tis.

Here’s the coun­ter­ar­gu­ment: car­ti­lage becomes health­i­er when it’s sub­ject to cycles of load­ing and unload­ing. Since a large frac­tion of your knee car­ti­lage has no direct blood sup­ply, the only way to get nutri­tion into the car­ti­lage (and flush waste prod­ucts out) is to repeat­ed­ly squeeze and then release the tis­sue, just like wring­ing water out of a sponge.

The anti-run­ning argu­ment has always had numer­ous holes. For one thing, it’s been hard to doc­u­ment the neg­a­tive effects of run­ning in a sci­en­tif­ic lab­o­ra­to­ry. And long term stud­ies show that run­ners don’t have an increased inci­dence of knee arthri­tis.

Now the pro-run­ning argu­ment has gained even more sup­port.

The Octo­ber 2016 issue of the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Applied Phys­i­ol­o­gy pub­lished an arti­cle study­ing the blood and joint flu­id of healthy young peo­ple before and after run­ning, as com­pared to before and after a peri­od of sit­ting.

The joint car­ti­lage of those who ran had low­er lev­els of inflam­ma­to­ry mark­ers. It also had low­er lev­els of one of the chem­i­cals known to occur in arthrit­ic knees — car­ti­lage oligomer­ic matrix pro­tein, or COMP. The impli­ca­tion is that run­ning actu­al­ly low­ers the lev­el of inflam­ma­tion and poten­tial for degen­er­a­tion in your knees.

It’s look­ing less and less like­ly that run­ning caus­es prob­lems for the knee joints. Like almost every oth­er bod­i­ly sys­tem, your joints are designed for move­ment, not sit­ting still.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Goldilocks and your knee car­ti­lage

Car­ti­lage health and chi­ro­prac­tic care

Rebuild­ing car­ti­lage of the inter­ver­te­bral disc


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website,, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.

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