Msk Lab Visit – The Impact of Running – Why Your Joints Dislike You

Those of you that follow my facebook page will know that I recently had a tour of an amazing research lab within Imperial College London. MSk Lab is head up by the immensely talented and equally humble Professor Cobb who did me the honour of inserting my original implant via limb salvage surgery over fifteen years ago.



Now as part of my tour and visit I was a participant in one of the research projects being undertaken there.

I was strapped into a specialist treadmill which registers the amount of force you exert per stride, where the force pattern emerges from heal strike to the push off from the ball of your foot among other telling pieces of data.

Many that know me will be aware of my caution when prescribing any kind of repetitive long distance training, especially running. It is fair to say that I am not a fan and for good reason: it can be devastating to your joints.

Force plate

During the treadmill test I had to walk  as fast I could for intervals and I highlight the word walk because the graph above shows how much force is transmitted through my legs, per stride. This particular segment shows a force of nearly 2.5 x bodyweight….per stride…per leg. For me, at a walk, means around 220kg of force going through my joints and cartilage.

Bearing in mind this was not a full speed walk and is but a fraction of the impact force experienced whilst jogging and running.

During a running stride you can expect that figure to double.

In my experience most people will run for between 3 and 8km and assuming that each stride is approximately 1m in length that’s 3000-8000 strides or 1500 to 4000 per leg. Which is a hell of a hammering when you consider that each stride results in an impact of somewhere in the region 200 – 500kg depending on your weight.

1500 impacts at that level is torture for long term joint health.


I am not saying that you shouldn’t run but you should know what you are getting into before you start a fitness programme for “health” benefits; there is nothing healthy about a destroyed knee joint no matter how much weight you lost in the process.


As usual a huge thank you goes out to Prof.. Cobb and also to Zoe and Victoria at MSk lab.

If you care to help fund the ongoing research then please contact Zoe at the lab.

If you want to find an alternative way to health, fitness and weight loss then give Personal Training with me a try, in Epsom or you own home gym in Surrey or South London.


Your Epsom Personal Trainer,

Richard Ham Williams

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