Runners are not giving themselves arthritis

As reported By Christie Aschwanden in the Washington Post

While out on a run recently, I passed a hiker on the trail. “My knees hurt just watching you,” he told me, shaking his head. It was a variation on a comment I hear over and over: Keep running like that, and you’ll give yourself arthritic knees.

The notion that running causes wear and tear on the joints that could spur arthritis makes some intuitive sense. But is it true?

 No — if anything, running probably offers protection from osteoarthritis, says Paul Williams, an exercise scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who leads the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study. These projects have enlisted almost 90,000 runners and walkers and followed them since the studies began, in 1991 and 1997, respectively. In an analysis recentlypublished in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Williams calculated rates of osteoarthritis and hip replacement among participants in his studies and found that runners were approximately half as likely as walkers to develop osteoarthritis or need a hip replacement. Furthermore, runners who ran the most had the lowest risk of osteoarthritis.

“There’s a perception out there that somehow you’re wearing out your joints if you’re out there running,” Williams says, but the thousands of runners in his study show this just isn’t so. “I’ve recruited people who were doing 60 or 70 miles per week, and we’ve followed them over time,” he says. “If there had been an effect, we would have seen it.”

The notion that running causes osteoarthritis arises from a misperception about how joints work, says Alex Hutchinson, a science journalist. “People think the joint is just a static, inert hinge that wears down, but it’s actually a dynamic, living thing that can respond to stress and adapt and get stronger,” he says. Rather than wear down cartilage and other joint tissue, running appears to strengthen them, Hutchinson says.

The latest research shows that osteoarthritis isn’t just a result of wear and tear on your joints, says Patience White, vice president for public health policy and advocacy at the Arthritis Foundation. Instead, the disease arises from an interplay between environment and genetics. The strongest risk factors for osteoarthritis are obesity and family history, says White, who is also a professor or medicine and pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Every extra pound you carry is akin to four pounds on your knees, White says: “If you lose five pounds, that’s like 20 pounds across your knees.” But obesity’s role in osteoarthritis isn’t confined to the extra stress it can put on joints. “People who weigh more also get more osteoarthritis in their wrists, so it’s not just about mechanical loading through the joint,” Hutchinson says. Fat tissue is metabolically active and secretes inflammatory hormones that interact with everything in the body, including cartilage and joints, he says.

To see the entire article, see:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/runners-are-not-giving-themselves-arthritis/2013/08/12/2cca7a96-fdde-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html

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About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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