March 22, 2023 — Lengthy-distance runners are sometimes warned that they’re carrying out their joints. However operating distance, frequency, and pace should not related to an elevated danger of osteoarthritis, new analysis says.

Osteoarthritis is brought on by the breakdown of cartilage in joints, and it’s the most typical sort of arthritis. Over 32.5 million U.S. adults have osteoarthritis, in response to the CDC. 

It has usually been thought that operating may improve the danger 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 Medication in Houston, who was not concerned with the work. Analysis on this space has had blended outcomes: A 2017 evaluation of a number of research discovered that aggressive runners did have larger charges of arthritis than leisure runners, whereas one other examine Lo carried out discovered runners didn’t have an elevated danger of knee osteoarthritis in comparison with non-runners. A 2018 examine confirmed that marathon runners had decrease situations 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 operating historical past, common mileage per week, and common operating 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 operating. 

Runners, on common, have been about 44 years outdated and ran about 28 miles per week.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% have been operating their first marathon. Research contributors had a median of 15 years of operating expertise, 1,892 reported a earlier hip or knee harm, and 413 had underwent knee or hip surgical procedure. General, 36.4% reported experiencing hip or knee ache up to now 12 months and seven.3% had been identified with arthritis.

Researchers discovered that there was no affiliation danger of osteoarthritis and weekly mileage, years spent operating, variety of marathons accomplished, or operating tempo. Respondents who had undergone knee or hip surgical procedure or had a earlier hip or knee harm that prevented operating have been more than likely to have arthritis. Household historical past of arthritis, larger physique mass index (BMI), and older age have been additionally tied with elevated danger of the situation. 

The information must 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 operating, “you possibly can 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 operating 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 shouldn’t be an inevitable consequence of distance operating,” 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 operating contributes to the danger of growing osteoarthritis. The contributors within the examine have been present marathoners, he mentioned, so it’s possible they’ve wholesome joints that may tolerate operating longer distances. 

“If there’s a subset of people that have joints which are negatively affected by operating, they would not possible 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 operating could be dangerous to joints. 

Whereas the analysis doesn’t reply the query of whether or not operating can result in osteoarthritis, it helps present the necessity for long-term analysis on how operating impacts joints additional time and common well being. 

 “It might take time for the medical group to maneuver past, ‘if it hurts, don’t do it,’ and reflexively advising towards high-impact train when somebody begins to develop osteoarthritis,” Toresdahl mentioned.

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