Will running ruin my joints?

Running is promoted in the media as a healthy physical activity for people at every age. In reality, majority of people have not had health problems caused by running, because they had done it too rarely, too slowly or for too short period of time. Running, e.g. in marathons or half-marathons causees many pathological symptoms, like dehydration, muscle breakdown, red blood cells breakdown, bleeding from the digestive tract (e.g. in 53.3% of competitors after running in half-marathon there was blood in urine). Such activity is often undertaken by young people or women.

There aren't many runners who do medical examinations, including e.g. stress test ECG, echocardiography, which may cause some serious results. Men at the age of 40 and over, who have not tested their heart statically and during effort, and who don't monitor their lipidogram (HDL, LDL, cholesterol, triglycerides), those who use anabolic-androgenic steroids or NSAIDs for a long time (e.g. increasing the ailments from the digestive tract), drink alcohol, smoke or use other pharmaceuticals or drugs, are exposed to exceptional risk.

That issue was developed in this article:

Damage of the kidneys, bleeding, muscle breakdown and injuries, i.e. what are the threats of running too much?

But that's only the tip of the mountain, it concerns well-trained people. The beginners will have much more serious problem – overload and injuries! Why? Because running is a huge load for the joints, it requires years of improving the technique and slow adaptation, and majority of people take it too fast, with bad technique (running on the heels), using wrong shoes, on too hard ground (concrete, asphalt, stones). If you add overweight and obesity to it, running is just asking for health problems. Because of the same reason, wrongly done resistance exercises may be the nail in the coffin for the knee or shoulder joint, lower back or elbows.

But let's talk about facts – in the study done in 2016 [1], the scientists from the University of Norfolk (USA) measured the force during:

  • moderately-intensive walking on horizontal surface,

  • intensive climbing up, inclined,

  • running on horizontal surface.

10 women and 10 men at the age of 22.8 +/- 0.5 took part in that experiment. Hypothesis: running will be more exhausting for the body, even with the same aerobic intensity, as fast marching.

The measurements were done at 3 attempts:

  • walking 5.5 km/h, 0% of inclination,

  • walking 5.5 km/h, 11% of inclination,

  • running 8 km/h, 0% of inclination.

The following measurements were taken within the last 5 minutes of the exercise:

  • oxygen consumption,

  • frequency of steps,

  • peak vertical ground reaction force (VGRF), which is created at the moment of touching the ground with the foot,

  • vertical force load (VFL), how much force is created during each second.