According to a recent study, running on a regular basis would not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee, but could even help to reduce the chances of suffering from it.
Osteoarthritis is a pathology characterized by wear and tear of the joint. The main factors that may increase the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis are: excess weight, alignment and biomechanics of your knees, age, previous injuries, and joint-related stress during work or leisure. Given the impact and repeated stresses on the knees during running, it would be easy to claim that this activity promotes degeneration of the joint. Think again, the most recent clinical studies show the opposite!
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas reported some very interesting results from the multicenter project “Osteoarthritis Initiative” at the congress of the American College of Rheumatology last November. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of the 2683 study participants (average age 64.5) reported that running was at one point in their lives one of their top 3 sports. Researchers showed that this group of “runners”, regardless of the age at which they ran, had a lower prevalence of knee pain or radiological signs and/or symptoms of knee osteoarthritis compared to other participants (22.8% versus 29.8%), and this 48 months after the start of the project. This study supports other recent publications identifying no link between the development of osteoarthritis and running.
An additional positive effect of running raised by the study cited here is that the group of participants who reported having already run in their lives has a lower body mass index (BMI) than the others. A lower BMI usually means a healthier weight, reducing stress on the knees. Therefore, the authors point out that running on a regular basis could prevent knee pain in the long run. It is still important to respect the main principles of training during running and to ensure good biomechanics.
The results presented here do not apply to runners with a history of knee
injuries or a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. For these, it is important to
consult a health professional to be well advised to continue to stay active and
maintain a healthy weight.