Three people running up some stairs

Is running bad for your joints?

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No doubt you’ve heard it all before ‘running is bad for your joints’, but is that really true? Brad McIntosh from Sydney Physio Solutions gives us 5 things to consider when it comes to running and joint health.

It’s a question we always get at Sydney Physio Solutions, so we’ve tried to summarise it in 5 quick answers for all the budding (and established) runners out there!

1.
The simple answer is no…sort of!  Provided you don’t have any joint injury or damage, there seems to be no evidence to support the idea that running is bad for you. 

In fact, there’s some evidence that it’s good for your joints

The problems come about when there is some existing injury in the joint. In this situation, we know that running can contribute to the wearing down of the joint’s cartilage.

2.
Running style changes can have a big impact on how you load your joints.

3.
There are a number of great studies into the bio-mechanics of running which look at a variable called ground reaction force.  This is the amount of force that the ground imparts on your foot and therefore your body as you run. 

Remember Newtons laws?! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
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4. Increasing your cadence, or the number of steps you take per minute, can help.  A lot of runners are running at somewhere around 160 or 165 steps per minute, sometimes even a bit lower. 

If you can increase that to around 180, you’d be able to reduce that ground reaction force significantly. This can be achieved by shortening the stride-length, and speeding up the rate at which the legs go around, so you’re actually taking more steps but they’re shorter.

5.
 Footwear is another factor that has some impact on the forces through the joints, but it’s really hard to generalise on footwear because it depends on the person, their structures, their weaknesses and running style etc.

~This article first appeared on Sydney Physio Solutions~


Sydney Physio Solutions was established in 2007 with the aim to provide a high quality service in injury rehabilitation using state-of-the art technology in an innovative environment.

Their team of highly qualified and caring physios, led by founder and Managing Director Brad McIntosh, can do a running analysis and provide advice & assessment for the very best outcome.

Brad and the team are also our injury prevention experts for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival so send them your questions at Ask a Physio and they’ll help you achieve your goals and get you over the finish line!