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Both runners and healthcare professionals express concerns over the potential for long-distance running to contribute to osteoarthritis of the knee. Authors of a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine debunk this long-standing myth.

The authors summarized their conclusions and provide us with the current state of the science:

1. Long-distance running is not harmful to the knee joint cartilage.
2. Running may provide a protective benefit against osteoarthritis in both the knee and hip.
3. Professional long-distance runners (or ex-runners) who are routinely running 75-130 miles per week, week in and week out, experience a slightly increased occurrence of knee osteoarthritis.

What if you already struggle with knee pain? The authors concluded, “Runners with knee osteoarthritis should feel safe continuing to run since running does not appear to accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis. Given the overwhelming health benefits associated with running, it is currently not sound advice to tell a runner with knee osteoarthritis who is managing their symptoms to cease or reduce running participation.”

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