Running for fun is great for joint health

Recreational running is good for your joints, study finds.

If you run for fun, there’s good news. A new study has found that recreational runners have a lower risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis compared to sedentary people — as well as compared to competitive runners.

Unfortunately for the serious competitive runner, the rate of osteoarthritis in the hip and knee joints is much higher.

The study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, looked at the association of knee and hip osteoarthritis with running intensity. The international team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis and found that only 3.5 per cent of recreational runners developed arthritis in the relevant joints.

That percentage is much lower than sedentary individuals who do no running at all, who develop arthritis at a rate of 10.2 percent.

However, that number rises when it comes to more serious runners. Competitive runners, such as marathon runners or sprinters, increase their risk of developing hip and knee arthritis to 13.3 per cent.

“The principal finding in this study is that, in general, running is not associated with osteoarthritis,” said Eduard Alentorn-Geli, lead author of the study. “The novel finding in our investigation is the increased association between running and arthritis in competitive, but not in recreational, runners.”

However, it should be noted that this study could not determine whether a high volume of running, like a competitive runner does, causes joint injury directly or whether it’s related to competitive runners being more likely to have previous injuries.

Alentorn-Geli, Eduard et al. (2017.)  ‘The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.’ Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2017 Volume 47 Issue 6, Pages 373–390. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2017.7137

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