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Does Running Cause Arthritis?

It is a popular belief that the wear and tear of running spurs osteoarthritis of the knees and other joints. But, is this notion true?
Not according to exercise scientist Paul Williams, who says studies show quite the opposite.

Williams heads the National Runner’s Health Study as well as the National Walkers’ Health Study. These projects have followed close to 90,000 runners and walkers since their inception in 1991 and 1997, respectively. An analysis of these studies was recently published in the journalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Williams studied the rates of osteoarthritis and hip replacements of the participants and found that runners were only half as likely to develop osteoarthritis or need a hip replacement as walkers. In addition, those in the study who ran the most had the lowest risk of osteoarthritis.

Running actually strengthens joints and is associated with a lower BMI (body mass index), keeping you stronger and healthier. On the other hand, one point of caution is in order.  These findings do not mean that people with arthritis should take up running. Running with pre-existing arthritis can actually worsen symptoms. Exercise is an important part of treating osteoarthritis but that exercise must be professionally prescribed to be safe and effective.


Source: Williams P. Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. July 2013; 45(7): 1292-1297.

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2 Responses to Does Running Cause Arthritis?

  1. Enzio says:

    Easily fixed but oh-so-frustrating! I’m rubbish at being pneitat but I’m being extra cautious given the amount of time it took me to recover when I had runner’s knee a few years ago.I am convinced that the treadmill is to blame, the first time I run on one in over a year (not counting running shop consults) and I end up with calf strain.Next time I will just run outside in the monsoon even if it means I end up drowning!

  2. Ryan says:

    4-6 weeks seems a long time to me, but the physiotherapist did say that alhugtoh that is a guideline time for recovery he does not think it will take that length of time for me to recover. I walked about 4 miles on Saturday, flat shoes and flat terrain, and the calf was aching in the last half mile so I think running is still at least a week away. But more ultrasound, physio and cycling next week and who knows?

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