Running is one of the most popular sports activities. This is normal, it does not require an opponent or teammate of the same level, no specialized equipment and can be practiced practically anywhere. On the other hand, we hear several people suggesting to others to stop running because, it seems, running would wear down the knees. Is this a myth or a reality?
This is exactly the subject of a systematic review to which Jean-François Esculier, a long-time collaborator at The Runner's Clinic, participated : The Influence of Running on Lower Limb Cartilage: A Systematic Review and Meta ‑ analysis.
What Happens In Your Knees When You Run?
After a workout, you can expect your cartilage to have shrunk in size. A bit like your muscles which are tired after a workout; in the acute phase, your cartilages will have been affected.
On the other hand, it seems that this impact is absorbed quickly. Already, during the day you ran, your cartilages would have returned to their original size. The impact of the race is therefore short-lived.
How does this happen?
Inside your cartilage there is a small reserve of water. This diffuses into the tissues surrounding the cartilage with the pressure exerted on the knee. It is therefore not harmful to your joints.
In fact, when you stop running, as the cartilage membrane is porous, water tends to return inside it in less than 24 hours.
What is the long term impact of running on your knees?
It seems that regular running practice does not usually lead to new damage to the cartilage of the knee.
If you already have a cartilage injury in the knee, be aware that the studies are not really conclusive at this time. It cannot therefore be confirmed that running improves or worsens the lesions.
So you can rest assured that your knees will not become worn out, even if you run for years.
Besides, it's normal, your body is not a machine, it is even better than a machine.
In fact, running could even be beneficial for your cartilages since, when practiced recreationally, running would decrease the risk of osteoarthritis in the knee and hip compared to a sedentary lifestyle or even a fashionable lifestyle. of life as an elite athlete.
Like many things in life, moderation tastes much better!