Does doing triathlons damage your joints?

Worried all your training could damage your joints and cause long-term problems and injuries? Physio Brad Beer takes a look at the evidence

Credit: Getty Images

Swimming and cycling are non-impact loading activities and are beneficial for the associated joints involved. But the concern is that running can cause osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip joints. But in fact, osteoarthritis is quite rare in runners/triathletes. And on the contrary, running seems to condition the articular cartilage, and has almost a protective effect against developing hip and knee osteoarthritis compared with non-runners. 

Advertisement MPU article

How does running affect your cartilage?

What muscles do you use in triathlon?

It should be noted, though, that running was not found to be protective against the onset of knee or hip osteoarthritis for runners who had a long history of high volume and intensity. Such runners (i.e. elites) were found to have equivalent risk of hip and knee osteoarthritis as sedentary individuals or non-runners. In contrast, runners who ran moderate volume/intensity actually had the lowest risk of developing hip or knee osteoarthritis.

So how can you protect your joints? Simple. Keep swimming, biking and running. Your joints would be more at risk from leading a sedentary life. So stay active and enjoy the benefits.

Advertisement MPU article

Brad Beer is the physio for Super League Triathlon and founder of POGO Physio

Synovial fluid: what is it and how does exercise affect it?

How to avoid injury while training and exercising

Hip osteoarthritis: What it is and how to manage it