Social distancing recommendations may remain in place in the U.S. indefinitely, but that’s not stopping Americans from getting exercise outdoors, hitting the paths and roads. But quarantine, in many cases, may have meant less activity than normal, so the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) this month presented an article its journal outlining common runners’ questions and discussing 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.2 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.”
“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 the author’s co-author James R. Ficke, MD, FAAOS, also an avid runner. “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.”