Are bad knees inevitable?

Hey, Marsh, I have a question. Recently, I was disappointed to learn what has happened to a friend of mine, since we’ve swapped great stories about  running marathons, ultras, etc. through the years. He’s 70 years old, and he explained to me that he has simply worn out the cartilage in his knees from the thousands and thousands of miles he  has run. Now, he can’t run at all.

Is this what you and I can expect later on if we keep on running?

–Bill P.

Bill, unfortunately for your friend, much of his problems are how he is  genetically predisposed. I would strongly suggest, for you, getting  a pair of Hoka One One shoes with fantastic (80%) cushioning. I also have a friend who is about 60 years old and had to stop running and  started biking. He put on a pair of Hokas and he is back on the  trails.

It’s a complex question that you asked, but let me share a story  with you: when I was about 40 years old I went into the doctor for a  meniscus trim (that was not necessarily caused by running). He took  a MRI of my knee … fast forward 15 years and about 50,000 miles of  running. I was running trails hard and doing some down jumps when my  knee started hurting again, so I went into the same doctor. He took  another MRI and found that one of my knee bones had been bruised.  Now here is the funny thing about it all: He had kept the old MRI and  compared it to the new one. He asked and wondered if I had stopped  running (though he knew better), as the cartilage looked exactly the  same 15 years and 50 K miles later.

So the answer is this. Take care of yourself and buy some great  shoes that will help you maintain your joints (barefoot/forefoot  running will not help unless that is YOUR natural style of running).  Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements are a good thing and also will help you maintain healthy joints. Don’t overdo, and take rest periods. I traditionally take a couple of months off during the  winter and don’t run, but might bike, or you can swim, too. The rest  is out of our hands, but I say we owe it to ourselves if we want to  run, it’s about quality of life. I am of the opinion that  we should use our God-given talents to the fullest extent that we can, no matter in what field we choose.

Hope this helps!

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