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Running causes knee osteoarthritis: myth or misunderstanding
  1. William O Roberts
  1. Correspondence to Dr William O Roberts, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1414 Maryland Avenue East, St Paul, MN 55106, USA; rober037{at}

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Jill is a 35-year-old woman who has just nursed her 60-year-old mother through a total knee replacement. She ran 800–5000 m competitively in high school and has continued to run for fitness. She has no knee pain and no history of knee injury. What can we tell her regarding her knee osteoarthritis (OA) risk if she continues to run?

Among the lay public, running is often considered a cause of knee OA, and many people use this as an excuse not to run for fitness, even though knee OA may be more common in sedentary individuals.1 While there is a vast literature addressing knee OA, there is no common conclusion regarding the risk of knee OA from running.

Is running a risk for knee OA?

One cross-sectional study and two systematic reviews have recently addressed this question.

The retrospective study included 2637 men and women aged 45–79 (mean 64 years, body mass index of 29) who had either knee-specific pain or knee …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

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