Motion is The Lotion

It’s a common belief that running causes wear and tear on the knees and contributes to arthritis. Running can be hard on the joints if you have poor biomechanics, inappropriate footwear, are overweight, etc… but it is not universal. Many people run in the later years of life without arthritis or joint pain. The cause of osteoarthritis (OA) is not entirely clear. This article by orthopedist Howard Luks MD reviews many myths associated with running and arthritis. Some key takeaways are:

  • Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder and there is evidence to suggest metabolic issues contribute to the development of OA.
  • OA will not worsen with exercise. Research shows that exercise increases protective cartilage chemicals. COMP proteins, a biomarker for cartilage degeneration, decrease around the knees after running and were found to increase after a period of sitting. This evidence suggests running can improve arthritis.
  • Diet plays a role in our joint health. All the tissues in our body, including cartilage, are sensitive to our dietary intake.

While the causes of OA aren’t entirely clear, it’s abundantly clear that a sedentary lifestyle is much more detrimental to our health. It contributes to osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, heart disease, metabolic disorders, makes us less resilient to falls and injuries, and it can limit our ability to live independently in our later years. If you have arthritis, keep moving. If you love running, keep running.