March 22, 2023 — Lengthy-distance runners are sometimes warned that they’re sporting out their joints. However working distance, frequency, and pace usually are not related to an elevated threat of osteoarthritis, new analysis says.
Osteoarthritis is attributable to 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 line with the CDC.
It has typically been thought that working might improve the chance of osteoarthritis as a result of it places extra load on joints than strolling or standing, stated Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, MD, assistant professor of immunology, allergy, and rheumatology on the Baylor Faculty 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 aggressive runners did have larger charges of arthritis than leisure runners, whereas one other research Lo performed discovered runners didn’t have an elevated threat of knee osteoarthritis in comparison with non-runners. A 2018 research confirmed that marathon runners had decrease situations of arthritis than the overall inhabitants.
On this new research, 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 recognized threat components for osteoarthritis together with weight, household historical past of arthritis, and previous accidents of the knee or hip that prevented working.
Runners, on common, have been about 44 years previous and ran about 28 miles per week. The most important 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 working their first marathon. Research members had a median of 15 years of working expertise, 1,892 reported a earlier hip or knee damage, and 413 had underwent knee or hip surgical procedure. Total, 36.4% reported experiencing hip or knee ache prior to now yr and seven.3% had been recognized with arthritis.
Researchers discovered that there was no affiliation threat 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 damage that prevented working have been probably to have arthritis. Household historical past of arthritis, larger physique mass index (BMI), and older age have been additionally tied with elevated threat of the situation.
The information needs to be encouraging for runners, stated 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 maintain them from working, “you’ll be able to nonetheless proceed to run,” he stated. “There could 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%) stated they deliberate to run one other marathon.
“The outcomes of this research are in step with the experiences of many lifelong runners and observations of sports activities drugs professionals that osteoarthritis will not be an inevitable consequence of distance working,” stated 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 research.
Nonetheless, he emphasised that extra analysis is important to know if working contributes to the chance of creating osteoarthritis. The members within the research have been present marathoners, he stated, so it’s seemingly they’ve wholesome joints that may tolerate working longer distances.
“If there’s a subset of people that have joints which are negatively affected by working, they would not seemingly be registering for a marathon,” he stated in an e-mail interview. Lo stated that evaluating these marathoners to a non-running group would additionally assist present if working will 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 extra 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 stated.