Does Running Cause Knee Arthritis?

Does Running Cause Knee Arthritis?

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Ryan marathonWith the Twin Cities Marathon coming up, running is on a lot of people’s minds.  One fo the most common questions that I hear in the clinic is does running cause arthritis?   The consensus answer is a clear NO!  This fact has been boosted by a recently published study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.  This study randomly surveyed people from 2004-2014 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative and asked questions about a history of running, as well as other baseline information about body mass index, any injury history, and symptomatic knee arthritis.  They found that running for leisure, at any point in your life, was not associated with an increased risk for painful knee arthritis.

This confirms the findings of several other studies finding that long-distance running 1,2 does not increase the risk of knee arthritis and may reduce your risk of needing to get a hip or knee replacement3.

So the take home message is don’t stop running just because you’re worried it will wear out your joints, IT WON’T! But that doesn’t mean you need to run through pain either.


If you are having pain with running there are several things that may be contributing to your problems.


1)    Inappropriate training

a)    Most running injuries are due to an inappropriate training schedule.  This can include, increasing training volume (mileage) too fast, increasing intensity (speed) too fast, or running too frequently or maybe not frequently enough.

2)    Strength Deficits

a)    Some people experience pain during running because they have a specific weakness somewhere in the legs or trunk.  These weaknesses can expose certain areas of your body, most often your knees, to additional stress that may cause pain with running over time.

3)    Mobility Deficits

a)    Others begin to experience pain with running because they do not have enough mobility of the joints in the leg to run with the form they would like.  Often this will begin to cause people to have foot and ankle pain.

4)    Running form

a)    Occasionally people will need to try to change their running form completely to reduce the incidence of recurrent running injuries.  But most are able to continue to run with small modifications to form in the short term.


If you are having knee pain, or really any other form of leg pain with running, DON’T give up running for fear of making your arthritis worse.  You can get back to running pain-free and the running specialists at OSI would love help you get back to running.  If you have any questions call for a free phone consultation or set up an appointment now to get you back out on the trails.


– Ryan


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Does Running Cause Knee Arthritis?


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Ryan Tully

Ryan Tully

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