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Does running protect against knee osteoarthritis? Or promote it? Assessing the current evidence
  1. Richard D Leech,
  2. Kim L Edwards,
  3. Mark E Batt
  1. Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Richard D Leech, Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, West Block F Floor, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK; msxrl5{at}

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Running is extremely popular and knee osteoarthritis is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions requiring healthcare intervention, thus the question of whether recreational (non-elite) running is associated with knee osteoarthritis has considerable personal and public health significance. The potential exists for a paradox relating to recreational running and joint health: promoting running may have unknown consequences for knee joint health, conversely, discouraging physical activity will negatively impact overall health, increasing the burden on healthcare systems. Additionally, risks (and/or benefits) associated with recreational running may not remain static but vary throughout life. Much remains unknown and the running research base to inform clinical decision-making is thin.

We aim to highlight the limitations of the current body of research and stimulate a wider debate regarding how this evidence is interpreted and conveyed. We also provide guidance on how future research should be structured and implemented to produce more robust science.

Current evidence

Wellness research often examines physical activity across …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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