Osteoarthritis No Threat to Runners

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Does running lead to the development of osteoarthritis? “No,” says Reed Ferber, associate professor of biomechanics at the University of Calgary, who claims just the opposite—that studies show running is protective of joints.

James Fell, writing on January 16, 2012 in the Los Angles Times, noted that near the beginning of the popular enthusiasm for running in the 1970’s, Finnish researchers found that 74 former champion runners developed less osteoarthritis of the hip than did the non-runners who were the control subjects.

Stanford researchers, in 1986, found that 41 long-distance runners who were older than 50 had a bone mineral content 40% higher, and no more incidence osteoarthritis, than did the control group. Fell reports that researchers at Stanford also tracked 45 long-distance runners for 18 years. When they examined their knees and compared them with 53 control subjects they found there was no difference, between the groups, in the osteoarthritis in their knees. The researchers reported their findings in 2008 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Fell quotes Irene Davis, an expert in biomechanics and director of the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard Medical School, who said, “There is really no evidence that running causes joint injuries.”

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