The effect of running on the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis of the hips and knees

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1985 Sep:(198):106-9.


Former college varsity athletes were surveyed by questionnaire to determine if long-distance running can be implicated as a factor in the future development of osteoarthritis of the hips and knees. Subjects were divided into two groups. One group consisted of 504 former varsity cross-country runners. A control group consisted of 287 college swimmers. Follow-up periods ranged from two to 55 years, with a mean of 25 years. In former runners there was a 2% incidence of severe pain of the hips and knees. In former swimmers there was an incidence of 2.4%. Additionally, 2.1% of swimmers eventually had had a surgical procedure for relief of pain. Only .8% of runners eventually required surgery for osteoarthritis. There is no association between moderate long-distance running and the future development of osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that neither heavy mileage nor the number of years running are contributory to the future development of osteoarthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Joint*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Running*
  • Swimming
  • Time Factors