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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bad Knees? No.

There's a common myth out there that running is somehow worse than other sports as far as injuries and knees and arthritis. I know about this myth - I've heard it a hundred times from a hundred different people.

So, I was pretty excited today to get my March issue of Runner's World and to see that they've got a whole section on knee pain and injury. From the article:

A review of studies from the past 25 years concludes that "moderate levels of running" appear not to increase the risk of osteoarthritis of the knees and may even have a protective effect. "The risks of running should be weighed against the tremendous benefits to other body systems," says coauthor Tyler Childs Cymet, D.O., an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
There was another section of the article that stated "marathon running does not cause severe, acute lesions of cartilage, ligaments or bone marrow in well-trained runners." (Source: European Radiology). What the article says is that your knees are more protected from having strong quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Do knees still get injured running? Sure. However, that is why I'm in the Galloway program - less mileage (non-runners: yes, most marathoners run 2-3 times as much as I do to train for a marathon), slower training, and all of that prevents injury. Even if you do get an injury while training, it is usually an overuse injury. The true permanent damage only happens when runners continue to train through an injury, which you shouldn't be doing anyway. And injuries occur in any sport, not just running. Ask Donovan McNabb.

So, for now, I think of "oh, I don't want to hurt my knees," as just an excuse. It's an excuse to remain inactive and not get healthy. Even if running did hurt you, there are plenty of exercises out there that won't (and I do find this article funny, it talks about how one study showed that arthritis was higher in swimmers than runners...).

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