Does long distance running increase the likelyhood of osteoarthritis?

As spring approaches, so do the opportunities to be outdoors. Running events start to become more prevalent on the weekends and training begins. So, how far is too far when it comes to distance running? Some say that long distance running, such as marathons, increases a person’s risk for osteoarthritis but a recent research study contradicts the age old myth.

 

Osteoarthritis can be the result of trauma or overuse of joints. Sports injuries can result from our body working in poor alignment or dysfunctions in balance. One research study looked at MRI’s of the hip and knees before and after marathon running. The results did not demonstrate any significant difference between the two. Another study looked at hips, knees, and ankles of 30 long distance runners who had been competitive runners in the early 1950’s. Of this group, only 1 individual was no longer running due to OA in both the upper and lower extremity joints. The remainder of the group has continued to consistently run and has had no significant difference between complaints of pain, range of motion, joint alignment, or degenerative changes as viewed by x-rays.

 

What these studies support is that running can be safely added to your exercise regimen to improve your overall health and well-being. However, if a person has pain due to injury or trauma one should address these issues as avoidance of treatment can lead to the changes that could cause osteoarthritis.

 

So there you go, another reason to get moving and enjoy our great spring weather!