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I’m a runner. Are my joints doomed?

Q: Does being tough on joints predispose people to arthritis?

From a runner to a fellow runner, keep racking up those miles! One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to stay active.

I have many patients who come into my office in pain and feel remorseful for “beating their joints up” when they were young. Yet clinicians now know that arthritis isn’t only caused by wear and tear but is heavily dependent on genetics. If you have arthritis, it’s likely your parents or someone in your family had a history of the disease.

Running by itself does not cause arthritis. However, it’s still wise to be aware of your body’s limits. Certain injuries, such as fracturing a knee or hip, can accelerate the development of arthritis.

Additionally, just because high-impact activities don’t cause arthritis, it doesn’t mean they can’t cause pain. Jumping, running, and heavy weightlifting can cause swelling and inflammation in the joints. Low-impact options such as swimming, biking, and yoga are less likely to hurt. If activities are painful, it may be time to adjust your exercise routine.

The best advice for good joint health is to stay active, stay limber, and eat a well-balanced diet. It is near impossible to predict whether you or a family member will develop arthritis and how quickly it will progress. Therefore, I always encourage patients to find an exercise they love and to pursue it with enthusiasm. You have nothing to lose and your health to gain!


Dr. Michael Kahan is a Vancouver Clinic orthopedist who specializes in minimally invasive hip and knee surgeries. He uses a holistic approach to patient care and takes the time to educate individuals about current evidence-based treatment plans so they can make informed decisions.