Does Running Wear Down Cartilage

As an avid runner myself, I’ve often wondered whether running actually wears down cartilage in the joints. Let’s delve into this topic and separate fact from fiction.

Understanding Cartilage

Cartilage is a firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at the joints and allows for smooth, frictionless movement. It’s essential for maintaining joint health and function.

Impact of Running on Cartilage

Contrary to popular belief, various studies have shown that running, in moderation, doesn’t significantly wear down cartilage. In fact, regular, moderate running can potentially have a protective effect on joint health. The impact and compressive forces experienced during running stimulate the production of molecules that help maintain the integrity of cartilage.

Maintaining Joint Health

It’s crucial for runners to take proactive measures to preserve joint health. This includes incorporating strength training to support the muscles around the joints, maintaining a proper running form, and investing in high-quality, supportive footwear. Additionally, cross-training with low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling can help reduce the repetitive stress on the joints.

Individual Variances

It’s important to recognize that individual variances exist when it comes to the impact of running on cartilage. Factors such as genetics, pre-existing joint conditions, and overall body mechanics can influence how running affects cartilage health.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If you have concerns about the impact of running on your joint health, consider seeking guidance from a sports medicine specialist or a physical therapist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific circumstances.


In conclusion, the idea that running inevitably wears down cartilage is not entirely accurate. When approached sensibly and with attention to overall joint health, running can be a beneficial activity. As with any physical endeavor, moderation and proper care are key in maintaining joint health for the long run.