A recent study has found that high-impact activities such as running and jumping can speed up the progression of arthritis.
Alan Grodzinsky, an MIT professor of biological, electrical and mechanical engineering, has found that high-impact exercise, such as running, may worsen cartilage damage in the earliest stages of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis, is where cartilage (the cushioning material that prevents the bones from rubbing together) deteriorates, causing pain and stiffness in the joints.
Grodzinsky and his colleagues have found that in the earliest stages of arthritis the tissue is more susceptible to damage from physical activities such as running or jumping.
As well as warning that high-impact sports can speed up the progression of the disease, the results also suggest that athletes who suffer knee injuries, such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – which gives them a greater chance of developing arthritis later in life – should be cautious when returning to their sport following surgery.
“It’s a clear signal to be careful of going right back out,” says Grodzinsky. “Even though your knee may be stabilised, there’s the possibility that deformation of cartilage at a high loading rate is still going to put it at risk.”