Let’s Talk: Is Running Bad for Your Joints?

Running itself isn't bad for your joints like many people think. It's running injuries that need to be avoided. So if you've been thinking about taking up running to get in shape or upping your existing running routine, consider this your go ahead to proceed, but with caution. Let's also talk more about why injuries are bad for your joints and what you can do if you get one. 

The real culprit is injury

According to orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists, you have no excuse not to go for a jog or run because, in general, running is not bad for your joints at any age.

This statement does come with a warning though: while running itself isn't bad for your body, running injuries are. In fact, some running injuries can cause continuous damage to articular cartilage (the tissue that helps bones move smoothly where they form a joint), and this can turn into arthritis.

So, as long as you don't injure yourself while running, your joints should be just fine. But if you're new to running and have arthritis or are overweight, talk to your doctor first before you begin.


How to avoid running injuries

Follow these tips to avoid a running injury and keep your joints happy and healthy:

  • Get fitted for the right running shoe, and replace your shoes every 400 miles or if the soles are worn. (Consider orthotics if you have flat feet or high arches.)
  • Warm up and stretch before every run or jog.
  • Increase your mileage slowly.
  • Change up your running surface and the direction you run frequently.
  • Rest well between long runs.
  • Add strength training to your exercise routine – strong muscles prevent stability and alignment problems that cause injury.
  • Use a foam roller to massage and loosen tight muscles. 

How to heal from a running injury

Serious, painful injuries require immediate medical attention. If an injury just makes it uncomfortable to run, use the RICE method. RICE is an acronym for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression 
  • Elevation

An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug may also help. If the injury doesn't heal after a day or two of rest, see your doctor.

Concerned you might have a running injury? Schedule an appointment online with one of our orthopedics and sports medicine experts near you today. 

​Dr. Eisele is the director of The Christ Hospital Bone Health Service, and sees patients at the Red Bank Outpatient Center location. A board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with 35 years of experience, Dr. Eisele's special interests include evaluation and care of foot and ankle injuries, dance medicine, foot and ankle arthritis and deformity, and the evaluation and treatment of osteoporosis and general bone health.

Let’s Talk: Is Running Bad for Your Joints? In our next “Let’s Talk” webisode, we talk running and joint health with The Christ Hospital's Sandra Eisele, MD. You might be surprised to learn that it's not running itself that's bad for your joints. Read on to find out the real culprit.

Running itself isn't bad for your joints like many people think. It's running injuries that need to be avoided. So if you've been thinking about taking up running to get in shape or upping your existing running routine, consider this your go ahead to proceed, but with caution. Let's also talk more about why injuries are bad for your joints and what you can do if you get one. 

The real culprit is injury

According to orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists, you have no excuse not to go for a jog or run because, in general, running is not bad for your joints at any age.

This statement does come with a warning though: while running itself isn't bad for your body, running injuries are. In fact, some running injuries can cause continuous damage to articular cartilage (the tissue that helps bones move smoothly where they form a joint), and this can turn into arthritis.

So, as long as you don't injure yourself while running, your joints should be just fine. But if you're new to running and have arthritis or are overweight, talk to your doctor first before you begin.


How to avoid running injuries

Follow these tips to avoid a running injury and keep your joints happy and healthy:

  • Get fitted for the right running shoe, and replace your shoes every 400 miles or if the soles are worn. (Consider orthotics if you have flat feet or high arches.)
  • Warm up and stretch before every run or jog.
  • Increase your mileage slowly.
  • Change up your running surface and the direction you run frequently.
  • Rest well between long runs.
  • Add strength training to your exercise routine – strong muscles prevent stability and alignment problems that cause injury.
  • Use a foam roller to massage and loosen tight muscles. 

How to heal from a running injury

Serious, painful injuries require immediate medical attention. If an injury just makes it uncomfortable to run, use the RICE method. RICE is an acronym for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression 
  • Elevation

An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug may also help. If the injury doesn't heal after a day or two of rest, see your doctor.

Concerned you might have a running injury? Schedule an appointment online with one of our orthopedics and sports medicine experts near you today. 

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