Walking away from running?


It is somewhat understood that running is bad for your joints. I have been an athlete since I was very young and finding this out when I was about 14 didn't stop me from competing in track and field, soccer, and running throughout high school to the present day. My uncle has been telling my siblings and I to switch from running and other strenuous cardio to swimming because it's much better for your joints and "common sense". He was an athlete and runner all his life who developed arthritis in his knees in his late 50s. Although I agree that swimming is a great alternative to running and other types of cardio, I am slightly addicted to runner's high.

Though at times I have a love/hate relationship with running, nothing beats finishing a run and the blast of endorphins you get as sweat runs down your face. The feeling of accomplishment for me is what keeps me going back to the sport. But the thought of having joint problems in my hips or my knees, as young as my 40s, does not reinforce my choice to continue running. I found a great article in TIME magazine that gives me hope that maybe running isn't as bad for our joints as we think.

In the article researchers found that not only does running not cause arthritis, it may help in preventing joint problems later on. Stanford University did a study on 1000 runners and nonrunners over a a 21 year period of time. In the beginning of the study none of the participants had arthritis, but many had developed arthritis over the 21 year period. When the researchers studied the results, which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2008, they found that "the runners' kneew were no more or less healthy that the nonrunners' knees". It did not matter how often or how much the runners ran. They had runners who averaged 2000 miles a year compared with those that ran 200 miles a year with no difference in their joints from each group. Interestingly enough the study also found the nonrunners experienced more disability than the runners and the runners had a "39% lower mortality rate than the nonrunners".

To support this research in a 2007 study of 1279 elderly people in Farmingham, Mass. "the most active people had the same risk of arthritis as the non active people".In the same year Australian researchers found, and published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, people who exercise rigorously had healthier and thicker cartilage in their knees than their "sedentary peers". Since they had thicker cartilage, they had lower chances of getting osteoarthritis which is caused by loss and breakdown of cartilage.

These findings support the idea that osteoarthritis and other joint disorder are caused by factors such as obesity or genes and not wear and tear of joints or exercise.

I was very relieved to find this article, but am still skeptical because of the immense pressure we put on our joints when we run or do other rigorous exercise. What do you think? Are joint problems only hereditary? Or maybe there both hereditary and vigorous exercise overtime.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1948208,00.html



I feel that there has been a lot of evidence lately for running being potentially damaging - but I think there are a lot of variables associated with the damage. Running shoes, running posture, and the amount of running a person does can affect injury and recovery quite a bit.

This webpage has a long list on scientific studies done on the topic of footwear/the absence of footwear. Among these studies are some that "hint at" some associations between running shoes and injuries. This leads me to believe that the correlations between running and joint disorders are still surrounded by uncertainty and confounding variables, and it's possible that running is like Tobacco; its harms are more complex than its benefits, meaning science is having to catch up and take time to really unravel those.

I am relieved to hear that running does not pose any apparent risks to the joints; however, maybe running could develop risks if done at extreme measures. Although there is a small percentage, it is possible to be addicted to too much exercise, which is harmful to your body. Here are the dangers of Exercise Addiction

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