No Increased Arthritis Risk with Running

This week’s Health Section of the New York Times reports on the ongoing debate of running and the potential for developing arthritis in the knees.  The commonly held belief that running increases the risk of developing has been refuted in more recent studies, as the article notes.  A potential reason may be found in a new study evaluating the impact forces runners and walkers experience.  Runners, as expected, were found to have much higher impact forces when their feet hit the ground, coming down with 8 times their body weight, while walkers came down with slightly less than 3 times their body weight.  However, over the same distance, the overall average impact was equivalent in runners and walkers.  This was attributed to the fact that fewer strides are taken, and the duration of impact is briefer during running.  This contributes to reducing the duration and frequency that their body takes any pounding.

Such findings show that the pounding the body takes with running is in fact no greater than that experienced with walking over the same distance and does not result in a greater chance of developing knee arthritis.  In fact, regular exercise in combination with weight loss, as noted in another recent study, have been shown to have greater benefit in reducing pain from knee arthritis.