Is running bad for your joints?
What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, commonly associated with pain and reduced function which can greatly affect quality of life. Presentation of osteoarthritis typically includes reduced joint space and reduced cartilage.
Osteoarthritis is a slow progressive disease that occurs over many years. There are many contributing factors that can influence the rate of development such as
- joint loading
- genetics (the genes you are born with)
- biomechanics (how you move)
- previous joint injury and
- physical activity
Can I Exercise with OA?
Physical activity is well established within the literature for neuromuscular training to be beneficial in managing symptoms of osteoarthritis by increasing general fitness and strength around the affected joints. However, it has been questioned that perhaps high loading, repetitive activities such as running could possibly increase the rate of joint degeneration. Running is an easily accessible form of cardiovascular fitness; however concerns regarding joint health may cause many individuals some hesitation.
Fortunately further research has been conducted and a recent review with over 100, 000 participants compared the rates of osteoarthritis in recreational runners, competitive runners and non-runners.
The Good News
Although there are no clear parameters in regards to classifying someone as either a recreational or elite runner, this review categorized runners according to total kilometres run per week. Recreational runners are considered as individuals who ran between 21-42 kilometres per week and competitive/elite runners ran up to 92 kilometres per week. In regards to non-runners, these individuals typically live a sedentary lifestyle and do not complete any running.
The results of this review found that recreational runners had an incidence of hip or knee osteoarthritis 3.5% compared to competitive runners who had an incidence of 13.3% and non-runners 10.5%. Said another way – people who do not run have a higher incidence compared with recreational runners in this study.
What Does This Mean if I Want to Run?
The outcomes of this review are pleasing because running is well established as an effective mode of cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal and general fitness. Recreational runners can be confident that running is not going to be the sole contributor to increasing their risk of developing hip or knee osteoarthritis and should be encouraged to continue running.
Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital Day Program
Donvale Rehabilitation Hospital offers individualised, multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs.
Our agreements with most health funds means out-of-pocket expenses are kept to a minimum.
To ensure your patients achieve best possible outcomes and quality of life, please contact us.
A referral form can be downloaded from our website, please visit Day Rehabilitation webpage.
Referrals should be addressed to:
Alenton-Geli E, Samuelsson K, Musahl V, Green CL, Bhandari M, Karlsson J, 2017, The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta- analysis, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 47 (6) pp 373-390