Many individuals that come to see a Kamloops Physiotherapist who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) may wonder whether it is safe for them to continue running. OA is a common condition that affects the joints and causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Particularly prevalent in the fingers, knees, and hips. It is important to know that, as long as it is done safely, running is still a safe and beneficial form of physical activity even for those with osteoarthritis.
Running is an effective way to increase overall fitness and lower the chance of developing other
chronic illnesses including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In addition, running can assist in
increasing muscle strength and flexibility, supporting the joints and reducing stiffness and pain.
In a study that followed adults over 50 with established knee osteoarthritis over four years found
that runners had no increased joint degeneration compared to non-runners. And the authors
concluded that running may have a protective and improving effect on the knees of older adults
with knee OA (1).
Another study examining the prevalence of knee and hip OA found that sedentary individuals
had the highest rates of OA, followed by competitive runners, with recreational runners showing
the least amount of OA (2). These results show us that OA is not simply a wear and tear disease,
but much more complicated. Continuing to run can be an integral component of maintaining
strong joints and limiting the progression of OA once diagnosed. Determining the right amount
of running has to do with striking a balance between complete avoidance of running, and
excessive pushing through pain.
Additionally, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can put extra stress
on the joints. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress levels can
also play a role in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis.
In conclusion, running with osteoarthritis is possible and can provide many benefits. The key is
to find the sweet spot between running excessively and not running at all, and to make sure that
the exercise is done in a safe manner. Book in for Kamloops Physiotherapy with our Movement
Mechanics Physiotherapist, Domenic Mercuri, to get back to running if you have been diagnosed
with OA. They can provide you with guidance and recommend exercises that are safe and
effective for your specific condition. With the right approach, running can help improve overall
fitness and reduce the symptoms OA.
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- Lo GH, Musa SM, Driban JB, Kriska AM, McAlindon TE, Souza RB, Petersen NJ, Storti
KL, Eaton CB, Hochberg MC, Jackson RD. Running does not increase symptoms or
structural progression in people with knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis
initiative. Clinical rheumatology. 2018 Sep;37(9):2497-504.
- Alentorn-Geli E, Samuelsson K, Musahl V, Green CL, Bhandari M, Karlsson J. The
association of recreational and competitive running with hip and knee osteoarthritis: a
systematic review and meta-analysis. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy.