Due to the enormous stresses placed on the joints while running, most people assume long distance running will hasten the age-related wear and tear of your joints. However, research studies have shown that this is not necessarily true.
In a 7-year research study conducted on 14,000 runners & approximately 70,000 walkers, it was found that a higher percentage of the walkers developed osteoarthritis and required hip replacements as compared to the runners.
The above study suggests long-distance running may even have a protective function. However, if you have a pre-existing joint injury or are overweight by about 20 pounds, running long distances can cause joint injuries. You would be better advised to wait until your joint injury is fully healed or work off the excess weight with low-impact activity before you take up running.
Most injuries due to running occur from overuse. A localized pain often precedes an injury to the specific joint and is a good indicator that you need to stop and get the problem evaluated. Continuing to run when injured can result in poor body mechanics which often leads to chronic joint injuries.
The risks of long-distance running should be carefully weighed against the tremendous benefits of this activity such as improved heart health, increased bone mineral density, weight control, and decreased mortality.
To maximize the benefits of long-distance running and minimize your risk of joint injury, gradually buildup your running distances, run on a good running track or trail rather than hard surfaces such as concrete, wear the right running shoes, use proper form, and don’t forget to warm up thoroughly before your run.
The Carrell Clinic offers treatment for Hip, Knee, Spine, Shoulder, Elbow, Foot, Ankle and Sports-related conditions in Dallas, Texas. For all appointments & inquiries, please call (214) 220-2468.