Is marathon running bad for your knees? The answer may surprise you.

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After years of working with runners, I have never treated a knee problem that resulted from the sport when the runner had healthy knees.  While pulled muscles, impact problems that lead to stress fractures and twisted ankles are common in the sport, the knee is part of the pulley system that requires good mobility in the feet, healthy hips and a functioning core to propel the body from one step to the next. There are many reasons why runners may have knee pain including shin splints, tight hip flexors, and a distorted core. Rarely do runners have degenerated knees due to the sport in our experience.  The newest research indicates that running is great for healthy knees. Some doctors may immediately do an MRI on a runner who has developed knee pain and may find out that there is a meniscus tear.  Current data suggests that many of us have these types of tears without it being the reason for knee pain itself.  In other words, many tears in the knee are without symptoms. More importantly, knee pain does not mean you have a damaged knee, and many of our patients who run and experience knee pain improve when we enhance their gait and flexibility.   More often than not, it can be preferable to skip the MRI if the test does not change effective care management for the problem since the MRI may open the door to procedures and treatments that are medically inappropriate. Current data shows that many of the procedures performed on knees may not be necessary or helpful. Recently, the NY Times weighed in on marathoners and knee health.  Their findings mirror ours. Check out the article below

Marathon Running May Be Good for Your Knees

Distance running rebuilds the health of certain essential components of middle-aged knees.

By Gretchen Reynolds Dec. 11, 2019 Could it be that marathon training and racing are actually good for our knees? A myth-toppling new study of novice, middle-aged runners suggests that the answer is a qualified yes. The study finds that taking up distance running rebuilds the health of certain essential components of middle-aged knees, even if the joints start off somewhat tattered and worn. But the results also contain a caution. Marathon mileage could erode one vulnerable area within the knee, the study finds, if runners are not careful. Those of us who run can almost be assured of hearing from concerned friends and relatives that we are ruining our knees. This notion is so entrenched that it discourages some people from trying the sport and worries those of us who continue. Read more