Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Low Rates of Arthritis Found Among Marathon Runners

February 15, 2018


Similar to Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster science may also be putting another myth to rest.  In our previous posts, we have written on the lack of data supporting the idea running leads to wear and tear or arthritis.  In fact, some research has shown running may have a protective effect on joints with runners having significantly less arthritis than their sedentary peers.  Until now there has not been a study which examined the link between running and arthritis among marathon runners.

Ponzio and colleagues examined 675 marathon runners (at least 5 marathon races) subjectively for complaints of pain, lost training or race time, and arthritic diagnoses (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 2018).  The runners in the trial ran an average of 36 miles per week with an average running experience of 19 years.  About 1 in 2 marathoners reported hip or knee pain, but the overall prevalence of arthritis was 9% well below the national average of 18% even when controlled for age, sex, body mass index and activity level.  The authors concluded “there was no significant risk associated with running duration, intensity, mileage, or the number of marathons completed.”  The authors did note age, family history, and surgical history independently predicted an increased risk for arthritis among the 9% with arthritis.  

This study adds to the literature refuting the link between running and arthritis.