More pros than cons to running
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Longtime runners are more likely to benefit from a competitive run than do harm to their health, according to a local orthopedic surgeon.
Jonathan Cluett, an orthopedic surgeon and avid runner, said he's aware runners are concerned about wear on joints, but the research is far from conclusive.
"The truth is, there is no evidence to show running results in accelerated arthritis or wears on joints," Cluett said.
At Orthopedics Associates in North County, Cluett said it's not uncommon to see runners, but that is largely because they are trying to do too much, too soon and they don't give themselves time to heal from an injury. He said running injuries are common; however, most people can recover with simple treatments.
While the information on wear is inconclusive, Cluett said there is strong research that shows regular exercise promotes better long-term cartilage health because more nutrients are received.
"I think most people agree if marathon or ultra-marathon running is what motivates you, the benefits of having that regular fitness far outweigh the benefits of a sedentary lifestyle," Cluett said.
Research has shown that ultra-marathon runners are more inclined to have more respiratory problems and "cardiac markers," such as troponin, which can be a predictor of cardiac problems. Cluett also said there is higher risk of inflammation.
Runners are at a higher risk of joint problems if they have a history of injury. Genetics and poor form can also be contributing factors.
Runners are advised to keep their weekly running at about 20 miles, but the exercise is better than sitting on a couch.
"As much as possible, runners should try to incorporate non-running activities in their training because they certainly can get physical fitness and cardiovascular training without doing the same activity over and over," Cluett said.
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