Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Does running damage your knees?

Oh no, here goes Karl on one of his rants again. Doesn't all that running damage your knees? I still get that question which is a very common misperception. I addressed this question earlier this year, but here I go again. I recently watched an interview with Molly Beckwith on how she started running. Molly just became the 7th American this year to break 2 minutes in the 800m (a HUGE barrier for women). In the interview she tells of how she ran track for one year in high school, then decided to play soccer year-round. She got a college scholarship to play soccer for Indiana, but after multiple knee injuries and surgeries from contact and rotational forces of the game, the pain forced her to quit soccer. She then walked on to the track team, ran 2:14 in her first 800m, dropped to 2:06 her Junior year, and was second at NCAA Championships her senior year. This summer she is one of the top 800m runners in the country.



Track and Field Videos on Flotrack



So did running damage her knees? No, but one could say that soccer did. Was she able to run after multiple knee injuries and surgeries? Yeah, I'd say she is able to run pretty well after all that. Is she now at a higher risk for early onset arthritis because of her multiple knee surgeries? YES! Could the running actually be good for her knees and delay any chance of arthritis or further degeneration? Well, the jury is still out on that one, but I have read some articles that show running may have a protective effect on the knees! Read this abstract.

Here is another one that showed a decreased incidence of arthritis with physical activity, although they don't really define what "Moderate Recreational Physical Activity" is.

6 comments:

claypatten said...

4 sx's her freshman year in college? How can you rehabilitate that? Sounds to me like she wasn't ready to go back to soccer after any of the 4. I wonder what were the injuries?

Karl Stutelberg said...

Clay, you are right, she probably wasn't ready to return to soccer. She also may have been rehabilitated by her trainer and not a P.T. Not saying that a trainer couldn't do it just that she sounds like a complicated case and would be better off with someone who has more education on rehabilitation. I think she picked the right sport though!

Chuck said...

From someone that has had knee surgery and really enjoys running this post is much appreciated. My right knee is always on my mind. I am very careful to avoid any activities that create rotational forces. Prior to my knee surgery I played a lot of softball & pick-up basketball, but those activities are now way to risky. Also, the day after any downhill running my knee is very sore and stiff. Do you have any advice on what I should be doing to prolong my running years?

Daniel said...

Very interesting post, Karl. You may have commented on it already, but I was wondering about the causes/consequences/remedies for plantar fasciitis. I've noticed some stiffness in the arch-to-heel part of my left foot, and I was wondering what your experiences are on the subject & any thoughts you might have regarding fixes. It feels pretty mild at this point. Tennis ball therapy?

Dale Lister said...

I understood that she had her 4th surgery her freshman year, not that she had had 4 surgeries that year.... I was thinking, how many surgeries did she have before they gave her a scholarship?

I get the knees question from time to time. An elder at my church, who happens to play racquetball (much more knee dangerous) is always asking me to be careful with my knees....

Karl Stutelberg said...

Chuck, The best thing you can do is a GS (General Strengthening) and core program to suppliment your running. Strong muscles will help keep your joints and running form in good alignment.

Dan, I have been dealing with some plantar fascia pain off and on over the past few months. It was bad this week so I took an extra day off. Rest is the best medicine, unfortunately. I will post more on Plantar Fasciitis next week.