Can marathon running improve knee damage of middle-aged adults? A prospective cohort study

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Subchondral bone improved in the tibial and femoral condyles in the marathon group.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Adults are recommended to participate in 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity to improve overall health and combat the high rate of global obesity. Running is a popular and simple exercise for all ages. Globally, 7.9 million recreational runners registered for races in 2018 (1). A 2019 systematic review of all-cause cardiovascular and cancer mortality found that even low distance and slow speed running was found to reduce all-cause mortality by up to 30% (2).

Despite the evidence, a persistent myth is that “running will damage the knees” and that longer distances increase the incidence of damage. Women have additionally been told that they should not run, despite international support from gynecological associations. There needs to be strong public awareness of the safety of running in order to take advantage. The authors designed this study to test the impact of marathon running on the knee joints of first time marathon runners.

Adults are recommended to participate in 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity to improve overall health and combat the high rate of global obesity.
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In our clinical practice we can be confident encouraging the safety of properly dosed running for knee osteoarthritis, as well as tendon, ligament, and bone health.

METHODS

This was a prospective, longitudinal cohort study on first time participants in the 2017 London Marathon. The mean age was 44 (25 – 73 years). The inclusion criteria included: sedentary, novice marathon runners with no history of knee or cardiac

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