Does exercise wear out your knees or cause osteoarthritis as some people claim?
World marathon record holder, Paula Radcliffe, didn’t get to the start line of the London 2012 Olympic marathon partly due to a degenerative foot condition which has caused her problems for the last 18 years. Although exercise, and in Paula’s case, running may improve fitness; overdoing it can cause us problems. We are told the benefits of exercise include 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis. So, you’d think the more you did the healthier you would be.
Liz Hollis writes in the October edition of ‘Women’s Running’ magazine that ‘linear endurance exercise’ such as running or cycling, where the joints are bent and straightened repeatedly but in the same direction, is beneficial for our joints, according to Professor Greg Whyte. A study of runners and non-runners over 28 years showed that the non-runners were more likely to get osteoarthritis. But what happened to Paula? To prevent osteoarthritis we need to look at how much exercise we do and how balanced we are. Just like a machine if the wheel is not balanced there will be more wear and tear. We need good cushioning & good core strength.
Dr Mark Porter’s ‘Inside Health’ on Radio 4 on 12th September looked at osteoarthritis, talking to GP Dr Christine Haseler. She said that the condition was often described as ‘wear and tear’ but this is misleading as it suggests that the joint is worn out and the only solution is replacing it. In fact osteoarthritis is a form of inflammation, where the body is trying to repair a damaged joint, and the patient can help the process by continuing to exercise to strengthen the muscles, and to help prevent extra weight gain which puts a lot of pressure on the joints.
Sometimes though it’s just down to our genes, although if you ever need a joint replacement, you will make a quicker recovery the fitter you are.