It is a common belief that high-impact activities such as running cause accelerated wear-and-tear on our joints. This causes many people to avoid the activity altogether if they are worried about injury.
But this belief is not entirely accurate. From a physiological perspective, we know that moving and loading our joints is how we keep them healthy and functioning long-term. Of course, doing "too much, too soon" can cause problems. But with a proper training plan and graded exposure approach to exercise, we can increase our chance for success with any kind of exercise or activity.
One retrospective study examined the knee radiographs, symptom assessments and completed lifetime physical activity surveys for 2,637 participants (55.8% female, mean age 64yrs) over a 10-year span from 2004 to 2014. Three participants were placed in three groups: current runners, past runners, and those who never ran.
Comparing the data between these three groups, it was concluded that there was no increased risk of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) among self-selected runners compared with non-runners. In those without signs of OA, running does not appear to accelerate the progression of OA in the knee joint.
In summary, don't be afraid to get out there and move your body or do the activities you love because of fear of injury. The health risks of inactivity far outweigh the risks of physical activity.