Does running Cause arthritis?
We all have heard this phrase of "Exercise is medicine", that is because exercises like running are good for overall health especially for our lungs, heart, bone, joints and our brain. Running also helps with lowering blood cholesterol levels, boost the immune system, weight loss, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, helps in reducing stress, fights depression and improve the mood of the individual.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception that running can cause injuries or arthritis, which may deter people to take up or continue with this exercise. Let us see if that is the case or not.
First, we need to understand what is osteoarthritis or commonly known as arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of cartilage, bone or ligaments. knee and hip are the most common joints affected by osteoarthritis. Arthritis generally happens when joints are not able to manage mechanical stress placed on the joint because of age, obesity, repetitive movements or trauma.
What does science say?
According to one large study published in 2017 Which is a combination of 17 studies with a total sample size of 114829 runners and non-runners, found out that only 3.5% of recreational runners (run for health benefits) had hip or knee arthritis; this was true for both male and female runners.
Individuals in the studies who were sedentary and did not run had a higher rate (10.2%) of hip or knee arthritis. Whereas professional or elite athletes or individuals who participated in international competition had the highest rate of the knee or hip arthritis at 13.3%.
Another study published in September 2013 that compares the impact of running and walking on knee suggests that even though running put more load on joints but because of less and brief forefoot contact, the impact was found the same as walking.
Contrary to normal belief a new study done by the researcher of Queen's University, Ontario Canada, suggests that cyclical loading, meaning activity in which force is applied to the joint, removed and then applied again help in keeping your cartilage healthy and promote cell growth.
This doesn't mean runners are immune to osteoarthritis, there are many risk factors like age, gender, body weight, muscle strength, etc. which can result in osteoarthritis. Respecting your body limits is key to pain-free running.
Movement screening at Synchrony health help you to know your physical risks and minimizing those risk with the help of specialized therapies and exercise.