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Running May Help Prevent Knee Arthritis, Says Study

Knee ArthritisOsteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain and disability in the knee joint. This is a condition in which the natural cushioning between joints, i.e., the cartilage, wears away, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness and impaired mobility. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 27 million people in the U.S. suffer from osteoarthritis, with pain affecting many areas including the knees, neck and hip.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is caused by aging, overweight, heredity, gender, repetitive stress injuries, athletics, and other medical conditions. Physical disability is the major clinical result of knee OA and people suffering from this condition usually have difficulty with walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car, and lifting and carrying things, all activities necessary to lead an independent life. Now, a new study has good news – it reports that regular running will not raise the risk of knee OA and may even help to prevent the disease.

The study covered more than 2,600 people who provided vital information about the three most common types of physical activity they did at different times in their lives. Of them, 29% said they were active runners at some point in their lives. The average age of the participants was 64 years, and the time periods asked about were 12-18, 19-34, 35-49, and 50 and older.

The key findings of the study are as follows

  • No matter what the age the participants were active runners, they experienced knee pain less often that those people who did not run
  • Those who ran also had fewer symptoms and evidence of knee arthritis than non-runners
  • Regular running does not increase the risk of knee arthritis, and may even protect against it
  • In people who do not have knee osteoarthritis, there is no reason to control participation in regular running at any time in life

The lead author also indicated that the study does not provide answers to the question of whether or not running can prove harmful for people who have already have knee osteoarthritis.

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