ROSEMONT, Ill. (June 15, 2020)—If you've started running, or have recently gotten back into it, you're not the only one. Cities across the country have seen a surge in the number of people exercising outside as social distancing recommendations remain in place. As people turn to running, whether as a first-timer or an experienced runner, there may be questions about how to do it without injury. A recent scientific article in the June 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, comes at an optimal time, as it not only outlines common runners’ questions, but also discusses the health benefits of running.
“Running is a beloved pastime for many Americans, but it is also a source of musculoskeletal injuries. However, with the proper approach to training and a mindful stride, it remains an excellent source of cardiovascular fitness,” said lead researcher and orthopaedic surgeon Andrea M. Spiker, MD. “This review gives orthopaedic surgeons a comprehensive overview of the sport and answers to common running-related orthopaedic questions. It also serves as a reminder to patients not to be afraid to ask an orthopaedic surgeon for advice regarding running and running injuries.”
Cardiovascular fitness activities like running protect against obesity, chronic disease, and brain atrophy. Running is an aerobic activity that can benefit overall health, and additionally is a weight-bearing exercise that helps maintain skeletal health. However, because of the high incidence of lower extremity and especially knee overuse injuries in runners, some people find themselves asking if running is bad for their joints or causes osteoarthritis. Dr. Spiker’s review addresses this question and reveals that there is no evidence that running increases the risk of osteoarthritis (OA) at the hip or knee.
“The association between osteoarthritis and running is a common misconception,” added Dr. Spiker. “Encouragingly, we found that rather than being a risk factor, running may actually be protective against osteoarthritis. Compared with walking, the relatively short duration of ground contact and relatively long length of strides in running seem to lessen the effect of high peak joint loads.”
According to co-author James R. Ficke, MD, FAAOS and an avid runner himself, the review team identified 11 questions commonly experienced by runners. The group’s orthopaedic literature review presented evidence-based answers to each question to guide orthopaedic surgeons in treating and counseling patients. Among the questions:
- How likely am I to get a running injury?
- How much should I run?
- What kind of stretching is recommended?
- What is the effect of shoes on running injuries?
- Am I too old to run?
- Should children run long distances?
- Is it safe for me to run during pregnancy and postpartum?
- Is running recommended after orthopaedic surgery?
“Most of us don’t usually think twice before lacing up our running shoes, but the past several months of staying home may have led to a little more sitting than we are used to,” said Ficke. “Now, more than ever before, and with the benefit of telemedicine during this COVID-19 era, orthopaedic surgeons are prepared to answer questions, diagnose the source of pain and help (re)establish a running routine.”
For more information about ways to reduce running injuries, visit OrthoInfo.org, the authoritative, trusted consumer website on bone and joint health.
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 Nelson ME, Rejeski WJ, Blair SN, et al: Physical activity and public health in older adults: Recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:1435-1445.
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