Hip & Knee OA in Runners?
This 2017 systematic review based on 22 studies and over 100 000 individuals aimed to once and for all answer the question, “Is running good or bad for your hips and knees? Does it cause osteoarthritis (OA)?”
Conclusion #1: The overall prevalence of hip and knee OA was 13% in competitive runners, 3.5% in recreational runners and 10% in controls/non-runners.
Conclusion #2: Recreational runners have a lower occurrence of hip & knee OA compared with competitive runners and non-runners.
Conclusion #3: Both sedentary lifestyle and long exposure to high-intensity running are associated with hip and/or knee OA.
We basically have the Goldilocks phenomenon …not too much, not too little, but just right! I continue to preach that you only need to run a bit to get the benefits; no need for marathons!
Conclusion #4: This study cannot conclude that extreme running is the cause of OA as there are other confounding risk factors, such as previous injury, obesity, genetics, etc.
You may ask what genetics has to do with anything? Perhaps the same gene that motivates some individuals to live active lives is responsible for preventing OA!
I fully appreciate the nature versus nurture argument; I do believe that some of us are just born with the gene to be active while some of us have the gene to take the path of least resistance in all physical activities, despite nagging parents or societal pressures.
Reference: Alentorn-Geli et al The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017 May 13:1-36.