Toronto, June 29 : Running will certainly help you avert any possible chances of developing a knee problem, according to studies which that showed that non-runners are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than regular runners.
A study to be published in next month's Skeletal Radiology, a team of Austrian radiologists presents knee MRIs of seven runners who had taken part in a previous MRI study before running the Vienna marathon in 1997.
The results indicated that no new damage in the knee joints of the six subjects who had continued running in the intervening decade.
"In contrast, the only person who had given up long-distance running showed severe deterioration in the intra-articular structures of his knee," Globeandmail.com quoted the authors, as saying.
Another long-term study at Stanford University has been following 45 runners and 53 non-runners since 1984. All had been taking regular X-rays. But the results indicated that after 18 years, 20 per cent of the runners had developed osteoarthritis in the knee, compared with 32 per cent of non-runners.
Eliza Chakravarty, lead author of the Stanford study said that these studies raise a possibility that several earlier studies have proposed: Running may help preserve the joints. But that's not a conclusion that can be drawn at this point.
"I don't think I would strongly recommend running for the purpose of protecting the knees," she said.
According to her, one drawback with both studies is selection bias. The runners in both cases were committed recreational runners who had a history of being able to run without serious problems.
A large-scale study that appeared last year in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, involving 1,279 subjects from the famously long-running Framingham Heart Study took into account data for non-runners who are considering taking up running.
Instead of studying "runners" versus "non-runners" the researchers examined the general study population, looking for associations between exercise (including running) and the development of knee osteoarthritis over a nine-year period. They found no link, suggesting even overweight non-runners can start exercising without putting their knees at risk.
On the other hand, the American College of Sports Medicine recently reported that each additional pound of body mass puts four extra pounds of stress on the knee, so packing on a pound a year for about a decade increases your chances of developing arthritis by 50 per cent - a fairly powerful argument for running to keep off weight and protect your knees.