Running Is A Joint Effort
How to keep your hips, knees, and ankles running strong
How to keep your body in top form in the very long run
LET'S BE CLEAR: running won’t ruin your knees. ‘Three large studies show longterm endurance running doesn’t seem to damage joint health,’ says Richard Willy, assistant professor of physical therapy at East Carolina University, US.
In fact, runners may have healthier joints than inactive people, says Max R Paquette, an assistant professor of biomechanics at the University of Memphis, US. Running strengthens bone and muscle, and it’s thought it may do the same for cartilage, which cushions joints. And strong muscles – built by running and strengthtraining (see p91) – support joints, so they are less vulnerable to injury.
But there’s a condition called ‘runner’s knee’ for a reason. Patellofemoral pain (knee pain) is the most reported injury in the sport. Hip, ankle and foot injuries happen, too, not because someone is running – but because he or she is running with poor form or muscle imbalances (see p90). Taking steps to minimise the risk can keep you running into your golden years.
Knee pain is a common problem in the UK population. Running itself isn’t to blame – although running incorrectly can be.