Does running really damage my knees?

I Berwick Family Osteopathy I

Does running really damage my knees?

I Berwick Family Osteopathy I
running, pain, knees

Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash


Adults are recommended to participate in 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week to improve overall health and combat the high rate of global obesity. Running is a popular and simple form of exercise for all ages across the world. A 2019 study found that even low distance and slow speed running was found to reduce all-cause mortality by up to 30%.


Despite the evidence, a persistent myth is that “running will damage the knees” and that longer distance running increases the incidence of damage. 


A 2017 study decided to test this theory for middle-aged runners participating in their first marathon. The inclusion criteria involved an average age of 44 who were sedentary novice runners with no history of cardiac or knee abnormalities. A series of questionnaires and an MRI were completed pre and post marathon. They found:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) reduced by 0.3.
  • No significant changes in meniscus damage.
  • 21 new articular cartilage lesions, however they were all asymptomatic.
  • Subchondral bone marrow improved in the tibia and femur.
  • Tendon and ligament injuries increased (however no load management or training protocols were followed with participants in control of their full training schedules and loads).


I Berwick Family Osteopathy I

Photo by sporlab on Unsplash


Key points:

  1. Running does not significantly increase risk of injury and knee damage.
  2. We can be confident in encouraging the safety of properly dosed running for knee osteoarthritis as well as tension, ligament and bone health. 
  3. Keep our runners running and help novice and returning runners get going with a graded program to build resilience.  


Get in touch with us at Berwick Family Osteopathy if we can help with anything running related.

Contact us on 9702 0094 to find out how we can help.

Or book online at: Book Online | Berwick Family Osteopathy

Blog written by Dr Adam Young – Registered Osteopath.
Berwick Family Osteopathy & Spinal Clinic



  1. Horga L et all (2019). Can marathon running improve knee damage of middle-aged adults? A prospective study. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 5(1)
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