March 22, 2023 — Lengthy-distance runners are sometimes warned that they’re sporting out their joints. However working distance, frequency, and pace aren’t related to an elevated danger of osteoarthritis, new analysis says.
Osteoarthritis is attributable to the breakdown of cartilage in joints, and it’s the commonest sort of arthritis. Over 32.5 million U.S. adults have osteoarthritis, based on the CDC.
It has usually been thought that working may improve the chance of osteoarthritis as a result of it places extra load on joints than strolling or standing, mentioned Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, MD, assistant professor of immunology, allergy, and rheumatology on the Baylor School of Drugs in Houston, who was not concerned with the work. Analysis on this space has had combined outcomes: A 2017 evaluation of a number of research discovered that competitive runners did have higher rates of arthritis than leisure runners, whereas one other examine Lo carried out discovered runners did not have an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis in comparison with non-runners. A 2018 examine confirmed that marathon runners had lower instances of arthritis than the overall inhabitants.
On this new examine, researchers surveyed 3,804 runners who participated within the 2019 or 2021 Chicago Marathon about their working historical past, common mileage per week, and common working tempo. The survey additionally requested about identified danger elements for osteoarthritis together with weight, household historical past of arthritis, and previous accidents of the knee or hip that prevented working.
Runners, on common, had been about 44 years outdated and ran about 28 miles per week. The biggest proportion of respondents had accomplished between two to 5 marathons (37.3%), round 21% respondents had completed six to 10 marathons, and 17% had been working their first marathon. Research contributors had a mean of 15 years of working expertise, 1,892 reported a earlier hip or knee harm, and 413 had underwent knee or hip surgical procedure. Total, 36.4% reported experiencing hip or knee ache previously yr and seven.3% had been recognized with arthritis.
Researchers discovered that there was no affiliation danger of osteoarthritis and weekly mileage, years spent working, variety of marathons accomplished, or working tempo. Respondents who had undergone knee or hip surgical procedure or had a earlier hip or knee harm that prevented working had been almost definitely to have arthritis. Household historical past of arthritis, larger physique mass index (BMI), and older age had been additionally tied with elevated danger of the situation.
The information needs to be encouraging for runners, mentioned Matthew Hartwell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon on the College of California, San Francisco, who led the analysis. If somebody doesn’t have accidents or surgical procedures that preserve them from working, “you may nonetheless proceed to run,” he mentioned. “There might not essentially be this dose response relationship the place the extra you run, the extra you break down your knee or your hip.”
Nonetheless, 24.2% of runners reported that their physician had suggested them to chop down their mileage or cease working altogether. Most runners (94.2%) mentioned they deliberate to run one other marathon.
“The outcomes of this examine are per the experiences of many lifelong runners and observations of sports activities drugs professionals that osteoarthritis just isn’t an inevitable consequence of distance working,” mentioned Brett Toresdahl, MD, a sports activities drugs physician on the Hospital for Particular Surgical procedure in New York Metropolis, who was not concerned with the examine.
Nonetheless, he emphasised that extra analysis is important to grasp if working contributes to the chance of growing osteoarthritis. The contributors within the examine had been present marathoners, he mentioned, so it’s doubtless they’ve wholesome joints that may tolerate working longer distances.
“If there’s a subset of people that have joints which can be negatively affected by working, they would not doubtless be registering for a marathon,” he mentioned in an e mail interview. Lo mentioned that evaluating these marathoners to a non-running group would additionally assist present if working could be dangerous to joints.
Whereas the analysis doesn’t reply the query of whether or not working can result in osteoarthritis, it helps present the necessity for long-term analysis on how working impacts joints time beyond regulation and normal well being.
“It could take time for the medical group to maneuver past, ‘if it hurts, don’t do it,’ and reflexively advising in opposition to high-impact train when somebody begins to develop osteoarthritis,” Toresdahl mentioned.
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