Running for Your Knees!

September 08, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

Running

As a runner of more than 15 years, it brought great joy to my heart (and knees) to read this…

An article in Skeletal Radiology,
a well-respected journal, created something of a sensation in Europe
last year. It reported that researchers from Danube Hospital in Austria
examined the knees of marathon runners using M.R.I. imaging,
before and after the 1997 Vienna marathon. Ten years later, they
scanned the same runners’ knees again. The results were striking. “No
major new internal damage in the knee joints of marathon runners was
found after a 10-year interval,” the researchers reported.

And
in slightly more approachable language, the article speculates that
“continuous exercise is protective, rather than destructive,” to knees.

And the story doesn't end there.

An important 2008 study, this one from Stanford University, followed middle-aged, longtime
distance runners (not necessarily marathoners) for nearly 20 years… After 20 years, however, the
runners’ knees were healthier… Barely 2
percent of the runners’ knees were severely arthritic, while almost 10
percent of the control group’s were. “We were quite surprised,” says
Eliza Chakravarty, an assistant professor at the Stanford University
School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our hypothesis going
in had been that runners, because of the repetitive pounding, would
develop more frequent and more severe arthritis.”

And…

A group of engineers and doctors at Stanford published a study
in the February issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that
showed that by moving and loading your knee joint, as you do when
walking or running, you “condition” your cartilage to the load. It
grows accustomed to those particular movements. You can run for miles,
decades, a lifetime, without harming it.

So I'll admit: this doesn't connect directly to school health policy. But it's a reminder for us all to get out there and move our bodies. Whether we run, dance, swim or just go for some really good walks, it's great to be reminded that exercise is really, really good for us — kids and adults — in ways that we may not think about every day.

And
for those running for HSC's marathon team (as I am), good luck, and
train on knowing that you're keeping your heart, mind and knees strong
— all for a great cause.

Thanks for your support!

And if you'd like to help support HSC's running team (or my run for that matter), click here...