LOW PREVALENCE OF HIP AND KNEE ARTHRITIS IN ACTIVE MARATHON RUNNERS

Review written by Tom Goom info

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

For many years it was believed that running was ‘bad for your knees’ and may increase the risk of developing arthritis. Indeed this belief is still highly prevalent today amongst both patients and health professionals and it paints a very bleak picture for runners. Thankfully, recent research is challenging this view and suggesting runners may even be at a reduced risk of developing arthritis. Like many areas though there are conflicting findings in the literature and so this study examined the prevalence of hip and knee arthritis in a large number of active marathon runners and compared with the general population to explore the link between running and arthritis in further detail.

METHODS

A total of 675 marathon runners were recruited with a mean age of 48 and an average weekly running distance of 36 miles. They completed a mean of 76 marathons with a large range from 5 to over 1000! To be included in the study athletes had to be active runners, running at least 10 miles per week. Athletes were excluded if they were no longer running. Data was collected using an electronic survey sent to marathon clubs which relied on self-reported information regarding training, pain and arthritis incidence. Results from runners in the U.S. were compared to prevalence in the general U.S. population (based on the National Health Interview Survey).

RESULTS

Hip or knee pain was reported by 47% of marathon runners and arthritis was reported by 8.8%. Arthritis prevalence of 8.8% within the U.S. based runners was significantly lower than the 17.9% reported in the general U.S. population, and also

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