Healthy Knees

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Q: I’ve heard that running is bad for knees. Is that true?

A: I suspect everyone has, at some stage, been told that “running is bad for your knees”. This is probably the No 1 reason given by non-runners for choosing to
keep off the roads. Two interesting research studies have been released in the recent past, both with encouraging findings for runners.

In the first study, Dutch scientists analysed 694 marathon runners during the period leading up to a local marathon race. They found that runners most likely to become injured were:
• Those who raced often – a marathon every two months increased injury risk.
• Those who had a history of injuries – the biggest risk for a future injury is a past injury.
• Smokers – so if you are a smoker, you’re more likely to become injured.
The good news was that regular interval training helped to prevent knee injuries. The studies simply says that if you do regular interval training, your risk
of knee injuries is lowered.

The second study, done by German scientists, examined the cartilage and menisci (a fibrous cartilage within the knee joint) of a group of runners after a 20km training run. They found that immediately after a 20km run, the cartilage volume was reduced, a sign of weakened knees. However, the good news is that within one hour of running, the volume was back to normal, and the knee had recovered from the run.

The conclusion? Knees are well able to adapt
to stresses from running. Of course, there is still a limit to this adaptation and so if you train too hard, or do too much distance, the adaptation may cease. But on the right training (which includes interval training), your knees are more than capable of
recovering rapidly.

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