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  • Anna B. Shannahan, MD

New Study: Marathons & knee health

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Chicago Marathon!

Congrats to everyone who gained an entry into the Chicago Marathon through the lottery yesterday!

& as if that wasn't enough good news...

A new study in the British Medical Journal examines the relationship between marathon running & knee health:

The New York Times also did a nice overview of it:​

The study involved looking at the knee MRI's of 82 healthy adults participating in their 1st marathon before & half a month after the marathon.

The premarathon & pretraining MRI's for most already showed signs of knee damage (without associated symptoms)!

But AFTER the marathon, MRI showed decreased damage in some areas!

The NYT summarized it quite nicely: "taking up distance running rebuilds the health of certain essential components of middle-aged knees, even if the joints start off somewhat tattered and worn.” However, the study also found that “marathon mileage could erode one vulnerable area within the knee...if runners are not careful.”

While more studies are still needed especially for long-term data, it's exciting to have research showing that distance running can be healing in some ways! Be smart & careful in races & training, & always listen to your body. Happy trails to you!

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