There is a long-running debate about running in the field of medicine.“The jury is still out,” Dr. Jon Schriner of Michigan State University told LiveScience in 2012. “Some say yes, running is bad for the knees; some say no.” Just-released research heavily favors the pro-running camp, demonstrating that it reduces the likelihood of osteoarthritis (OA). The scientists conducting the study at Baylor College of Medicine assessed subjects who ran on a regular basis for a substantial part of their lives, revealing that they were no more vulnerable to OA than non-runners.
Previous studies have shown a strong correlation between running and the degenerative joint disorder. These new findings suggest that the activity itself serves as a defense against physical wear-and-tear such as OA.
What is osteoarthritis?
OA represents the top threat to the joints for those in the middle and upper age brackets.
An OA sufferer experiences chronic pain when the cartilage that serves as padding in the joints gradually deteriorates.
The changes can include a build-up of fluid, the development of a bony overgrowth, and loosening and a weakness of muscles and tendons, all of which may limit movement and cause pain and swelling.
Does running cause knee pain?
The researchers sought out to determine if running contributes to joint regeneration by compiling data from a previous, widely-cited pain medicine project, the Osteoarthritis Initiative.
The Baylor team looked at the records of almost 2700 patients, who had the following characteristics:
- 44% male, 56% female
- 5 years old, on average
- 6 BMI (overweight), on average.
- 29% runners.
The Osteoarthritis Initiative patients were X-rayed; interviewed about any knee pain or reduced mobility; and asked to provide descriptions of their exercise routines.
The same patients were then reviewed 24 months following the initial assessments.
An individual was considered to be experiencing the symptoms of knee OA if two basic conditions were met:
- Evidence of arthritis in the X-ray (called radiographic evidence)
- Persistent or intermittent discomfort.
The researchers discovered that running could be used for prevention of osteoarthritis: Anyone with a history of running, regardless the time of life they had been particularly active, were less likely to have either radiographic or symptomatic signs of arthritis than those who did not run.
- 23% of runners were suffering from osteoarthritis
- 30% of those who did not run were suffering.
Getting help for knee pain
Medical findings continue to adapt the way that we approach joint diseases and other pain conditions. Now there is strong evidence that running doesn’t hurt the knees but could actually help with prevention of osteoarthritis. What about those who are already suffering from OA, though? Stop your pain today with a free consultation, X-rays, and hydro-massage