Warning: Running is bad for you

No I’m not a runner. Running is bad for you. No I don’t run. It’s bad for the knees. It’s bad for your hips. Running will cause arthritis. Running puts too much stress on your body. Running will ruin your spine. Running will damage your bones and tendons.

You’ve heard all of this before from friends, work colleagues and anyone else who when they find out you run want to give you their opinion about how you shouldn’t be running so much, or running at all.

I for one am sick of it. Yes running is hard. Yes running hurts sometimes. Yes you can get injured running if you do too much. But you and your uneducated opinion can go get F@#$ed. You don’t run because you’re lazy. You don’t run because it’s hard. You don’t run because you’re mentally (and physically) weak. You don’t run because you give up too easily.

People tell you not to run and that it’s bad for you because they are jealous they don’t have the strength of character to persist through the first few months of a running program. If you do any form of exercise for the first time it’s going to be hard and you are going to be sore, but you then need to persevere so your body will gradually adapt getting stronger and more robust. Once you push through this adaptation phase it no longer leaves you crippled for days.

But commitment and dedication are hard. And hard is well just too hard. (Enter physical inactivity and obesity epidemic).

Anyway, next time someone tells you that running is bad for you, tell them the below:

  • Low grade systemic inflammation is a factor in several musculoskeletal conditions – including osteoarthritis. Running has an anti-inflammatory effect and will decrease resting levels of pro-inflammatory markers. Not only does this mean your chances of getting osteoarthritis will be decreased but that if you already have osteoarthritis running will decrease your pain levels and improve function. i.e. Running is actually good for your knees. (see here for evidence – http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/10/762)
  • Some tissue responds anabolically to chronic running. Long distance runners (50km+ per week) and joggers (20-40kms/week) show better spinal health with greater hydration and glycosaminoglycan levels and hypertrophy of the intervertebral discs than non-runners. Positive adaptations in the spine from running! (See here for evidence –http://www.nature.com/articles/srep45975)
  • Regular exercise protects against degenerative joint disease aka arthritis. Running – as little as a 30minute bout decreases knee intra-articular pro-inflammatory cytokine concentration and improves cartilage turnover. Oh hello – running is actually good for the knees! (See here for evidence – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-016-3474-z)

So my running friends, ignore the naysayers and run hard and often knowing that it’s doing your body the world of good!

By Peter Feain