If you suffer from arthritis pain, the last thing you might expect to help is going for a run or a jog. Some people are lifelong runners that can’t imagine their days without a good run. Others may receive a recommendation from their doctors to give aerobic exercise a try to loosen up their joints and get their bodies moving in a healthy way. Fortunately, there are some effective stretches and non-pain-medication solutions to alleviating your pain if you enjoy going for runs.
Are Runners More Likely to Develop Arthritis?
Many people are concerned that repetitive exercise, such as running, could damage their joints over time. However, studies show that repetitive movements can actually be good for joints.
An Australian study that involved 297 men and women without knee injuries or disease showed that the ones who performed the most vigorous weight-bearing exercise had the healthiest knee cartilage.1,2
Another study was conducted in 2008 that found no evidence that running and other similar exercises cause arthritis in a vast majority of people.3 When compared to a non-runner control group, runners experienced significantly less musculoskeletal disability than their less active counterparts, and the runners also had a 39% lower mortality rate.
However, when damaged joints are caused by arthritis,4 the high-velocity impacts of running can cause more harm to them.5 Lower impact aerobic exercises, like cycling and swimming, maybe better recommendations for arthritis sufferers, especially those with pain in the knees and hips.
Running and Arthritis of the Hips
Another question that often comes up is if arthritis of the knees makes runners more prone to arthritis of the hips. But in fact, studies have shown that both knee and hip arthritis develop at a similar pace among both runners and non-runners.6
To prevent hip pain and hip damage while running, avoid hard asphalt and concrete surfaces as much as possible. Instead, run on softer surfaces, such as dirt trails and rubberized artificial running tracks.7
Stretches for Runners
Regardless of the severity of arthritis pain, stretching both before and after a run is crucial.8 Recommended stretches for before a run includes, a few leg swings by holding onto a chair and swinging each leg forward and back and a few walking lunges to prepare the body’s hips and knees for activity.
After a run, do a few standing quad stretches and standing calf stretches.9 The heel should be guided towards the buttocks to stretch the quads and the hands should hold the ball of each foot against a wall to stretch the calves. Then kneel down and place one leg out in front to stretch over it and alleviate tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Doing 10 to 15 minutes of yoga before and after a run can also help keep joints flexible and avoid injury and strains.
Other Non-Pain-Medication Solutions for Runners
In addition to stretching regularly, there are quite a few other effective non-pain medication solutions that runners can pursue to subdue or alleviate their arthritis symptoms. Before or after your run, rub JointFlex’s arthritis pain relief cream into your knees and hips to make it easier to move and keep symptoms at bay.
Getting acupuncture may help to alleviate your arthritis pain as well, and natural supplements, like fish oil and ginger, may help because they have anti-inflammatory properties.10,11 It’s always important to talk with your doctor about your level of physical activity and your running goals so that you can devise a pain management strategy that enables you to continue the active lifestyle you love.
REFERENCES for JOINT PAIN RELATED TO RUNNING AND JOGGING
1. Does exercise contribute to arthritis? Research says no. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/does-exercise-contribute-to-arthritis-cinnamon-treatment-for-diabetes.
2. Wang, Y., Wluka, A. E., English, D. R., Teichtahl, A. J., Giles, G. G., O’Sullivan, R., & Cicuttini, F. M. (2007). Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Body composition and knee cartilage properties in healthy, community-based adults. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 66, 1244-1248. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Graham_Giles/publication/6541849_Body_composition_and_knee_cartilage_properties_in_healthy_community-based_adults/links/0deec521604dc36604000000/Body-composition-and-knee-cartilage-properties-in-healthy-community-based-adults.pdf.
3. Chakravarty, E. F., Hubert, H. B., Lingala, V. B., & Fries, J. F. (2008 August). Reduced disability and mortality among aging runners: a 21-year longitudinal study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168, 1638-1646. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175643/.
4. Arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/arthritis.html.
5. Physical activity for arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/physical-activity-overview.html.
6. Lane, N. E. & Buckwalter, J. A. (2000 February). Exercise and osteoarthritis. Current Opinion in Orthopaedics, 11, 62-66. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://journals.lww.com/co-ortho/Abstract/2000/02000/Exercise_and_osteoarthritis.11.aspx.
7. Running. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/arthritis-friendly/running.php.
8. Melone, L. 7 Dynamic Warm Ups. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/simple-routines/dynamic-stretching.php.
9. Leopold, S.S. & Matsen, F. A. (2011 September). Exercise and arthritis. Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of Washington. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/arthritis/exercise-and-arthritis.html.
10. Watson, S. Acupuncture and arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/mind-body-pain-relief/acupuncture-gets-respect.php.
11. DeVries, C. (2015 October 15). Top 4 supplements to treat arthritis pain. Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/blog/top-4-supplements-treat-arthritis-pain.
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