Runners have less arthritis (not more) and weight is a major factor
Three articles on PainSci cite Williams 2013: 1. The Trouble with Chairs 2. The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome 3. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
PainSci commentary on Williams 2013: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This analysis of about a zillion runners versus walkers found that “running significantly reduced arthritis and hip replacement risk”… but due in large part to the fact that runners were typically skinnier. So weight was a trump factor here.
This data flies in the face of the common assumption that running is much harder on the joints. Instead, what it clearly shows is that running is either neutral or helpful, and weight is a much more important factor regardless of whether you walk or run.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
PURPOSE: Running and other strenuous sports activities are purported to increase osteoarthritis (OA) risk, more so than walking and less-strenuous activities. Analyses were therefore performed to test whether running, walking, and other exercise affect OA and hip replacement risk and to assess the role of body mass index (BMI) in mediating these relationships.
METHODS: In this article, we studied the proportional hazards analyses of patients' report of having physician-diagnosed OA and hip replacement versus exercise energy expenditure (METs).
RESULTS: Of the 74,752 runners, 2004 reported OA and 259 reported hip replacements during the 7.1-yr follow-up; whereas of the 14,625 walkers, 696 reported OA and 114 reported hip replacements during the 5.7-yr follow-up. Compared with running <1.8 MET·h·d, the risks for OA and hip replacement decreased as follows: 1) 18.1% (P = 0.01) and 35.1% (P = 0.03) for the 1.8- and 3.6-MET·h·d run, respectively; 2) 16.1% (P = 0.03) and 50.4% (P = 0.002) for the 3.6- and 5.4-MET·h·d run, respectively; and 3) 15.6% (P = 0.02) and 38.5% (P = 0.01) for the ≥5.4-MET·h·d run, suggesting that the risk reduction mostly occurred by 1.8 MET·h·d. Baseline BMI was strongly associated with both OA (5.0% increase per kilogram per square meter, P = 2 × 10) and hip replacement risks (9.8% increase per kilogram per square meter, P = 4.8 × 10), and adjustment for BMI substantially diminished the risk reduction from running ≥1.8 MET·h·d for OA (from 16.5%, P = 0.01, to 8.6%, P = 0.21) and hip replacement (from 40.4%, P = 0.005, to 28.5%, P = 0.07). The reductions in OA and hip replacement risk by exceeding 1.8 MET·h·d did not differ significantly between runners and walkers. Other (nonrunning) exercise increased the risk of OA by 2.4% (P = 0.009) and hip replacement by 5.0% per MET·h·d (P = 0.02), independent of BMI.
CONCLUSIONS: Running significantly reduced OA and hip replacement risk due to, in part, running's association with lower BMI, whereas other exercise increased OA and hip replacement risk.
- “High-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Assessment of Articular Cartilage Before and After Marathon Running: Does Long-Distance Running Lead to Cartilage Damage?,” Luke et al, American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2010.
- “The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Alentorn-Geli et al, Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2017.
- “Low Prevalence of Hip and Knee Arthritis in Active Marathon Runners,” Ponzio et al, Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 2018.
- “Running does not increase symptoms or structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative,” Lo et al, Clin Rheumatol, 2018.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
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- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.