4 Workouts That Might Be Destroying Your Knees

Running isn’t the only exercise you should watch out for

Can your workout be the reason your joints are aching? Certain sports can wreck your knees more than others, according to a new review published in the Journal of Athletic Training.

Researchers analyzed 17 studies that evaluated the link between sports and knee osteoarthritis—the wearing down of your joints, which can lead to instability and pain—in nearly 3,800 elite-level athletes.

They found that athletes involved in soccer, long distance running, soccer, competitive weightlifting, and wrestling were significantly more likely to experience knee osteoarthritis than guys who played other elite-level sports or didn’t play sports at all.

In fact, men who participated in those high-risk sports were 3 to 7 times more likely to endure knee osteoarthritis than guys who participated in basketball, boxing, shooting, and track and field, the researchers found. (Here are 4 things young, active guys do that ruin their joints.)

Of those sports, elite-level competitive weightlifting posed the biggest threat to the athletes’ knees, closely followed by both elite and non-elite level soccer.

That’s likely because those sports require high-intensity exercise and puts stress on your joints, which can lead to knee injury, the review concludes.

“It is important to note that most of these sports involve a high risk of injury and have lots of loading on the knee joint,” leady study author Jeffrey B. Driban of Tufts Medical Center in Boston told Reuters. “For example, Olympic-level marathon runners expose their joints to many more miles per week than a typical runner. Or alternatively, elite-level weight-lifters expose their joints to much greater forces during each repetition than the typical person in a weight room.”

But if you’re not training for a marathon, your daily run might actually help protect your knees and make your bones stronger. That holds for weight lifting, too. For the average guy, lifting weights is important, since it can help you build muscle and maintain a healthy weight.

So if you’re experiencing knee pain, you don’t need to swear off your favorite workout entirely—just make sure you’re not skipping your warm-up, pushing yourself too hard, or falling into these other habits that wreck your knees.

Stretching properly can help, too. Try this 2-minute drill first thing in the morning, or before or after your next lower-body workout. But if your aches continue, it might be best to loop in your doctor.

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