Does Marathon Running Ruin Your Knees?

running knee injuries

The London Marathon takes place on the 3rd of October, and this year it is set to be the biggest of all time. The event, held by Virgin Money, is set to see 100,000 runners take part in 2021.

While running is known to deliver all kinds of health benefits, it also poses a few risks. This is especially true when you are running a marathon. Without adequate training, you could be putting your body under unprecedented strain. In particular, the knees are put under enormous pressure.

So, does marathon running ruin your knees? Find out more about potential running knee injuries.

Is marathon running bad for the knees?

Due to how intensive marathon running is, you would expect it to be quite brutal on the knees. However, according to various studies, running a marathon might actually be beneficial.

A recent study took an MRI of both knees in 82 healthy adults who were running in their first marathon. An MRI was carried out both before and after the event. A total of 71 participants completed the 4-month training programme, while 11 dropped out. Alongside the MRI scans, participants also completed questionnaires.

In the pre-marathon MRIs, it showed most of the 82 participants had some sign of wear and tear damage. Interestingly, after they had run the marathon, those with damage to the subchondral bone of the femoral and tibial condyles, saw an improvement in the knee. However, it did show damage to the patella cartilage.

Additional studies have revealed that marathon running can be beneficial for those suffering from mild osteoarthritis.

Should you run a marathon if you have bad knees?

While the results of the recent study are promising, it’s probably advisable to explore sports such as cycling or swimming, which will improve your fitness and muscle strength without putting undue pressure on your knees. It will also depend upon the severity of the Osteoarthritis and how much it impacts your mobility.

Tips for protecting your knees when running a marathon

If you do decide to run a marathon, there are a few things you can do to protect again running knee injuries.

Firstly, you should make sure you do the correct amount of training, spread over many months, and carefully planned in terms of increasing intensity. This gives you plenty of time to prepare the body for the challenge ahead. Focus on building up strength and flexibility within the knee joint.

You should also make sure you are wearing the right shoes. If you haven’t already, you should invest in specialised running shoes to keep the feet and knees protected. Making sure you stretch before and after the marathon will also help.

To sum up, marathon running isn’t likely to ruin your knees provided you do it properly. An appointment with a knee specialist to assess any damage to the knee joint is also advisable, don’t hesitate to get in touch.