Does running cause knee arthritis? The debate over whether running contributes to more or less knee arthritis added an interesting research chapter this week. While the human data seems to show that patients who run have less knee arthritis, the rat data seems to go the other way. In the case of this new study, running knee arthritis is caused by excessive running in rats. How much is excessive? Well, if you approach this study like a 6th grade math problem and convert a rat stride to a human stride and multiply by the number of Kilometers and then multiply by 0.62, it works out to about 172-180 miles a week! Considering that elite marathon runners will put in about 100-140 miles a week and definitely don’t develop arthritis in a few months like rats, human knees must be much more durable. In addition, we have many ultra marathoners here in Colorado who would run as much or more than these rats, so again our human knees much be better. So what do we know about running and knee arthritis? Light exercise like brisk walking helps arthritic knees. Long distance running in older people isn’t associated with any more knee arthritis on x-rays. The uphot? The first is obvious-poor rats! Talk about a “rat race”! The second, if you have bad runner’s knees, then you may want to start calling them “rat knees”!
Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile
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