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HomeMedical Information Quality MedicineTo Run or Not to Run – That is the Question

To Run or Not to Run – That is the Question

By: Medix Team

No excuses left: new studies show that running is excellent for your back and your knees

Running for health benefits has always been a controversial topic. On the one hand, everyone agrees that an active physical lifestyle is good for the heart, stress, muscles and even the brain. On the other hand, specialists worry that running causes wear and tear of the knees and hips, leading to arthritis, which can be messy to manage later on in life. Knee and hip replacement surgeries are common, however they are extremely invasive and are best avoided if possible. Two studies recently published in the leading medical journals, have shed some light on this topic.


Herniated discs are the leading cause for back pain. This means that the disc, the substance between the spinal vertebrae, slips out of place, pressing on the spine or neighboring nerves and causing substantial pain. The study set out to test if running could reduce rates of herniated discs. The logic behind this is that running increases pressure on the discs, which over time would adjust to the added pressure, lowering the chance of them slipping out of place. Until the study, most specialists assumed that this adjustment process is too slow to achieve results within the human lifespan. However, they were proven wrong. Study results clearly indicated that running actually improved disc health and even reduced herniation rates.


Now that another benefit of running has been found, we come back to our first question: to run or not to run? This was the exact question of the second study which compared non-runners, recreational runners and competitive runners and checked for the effect on hip and knee damage. The results were quite astonishing: competitive runners fared the worst with a high rate of degeneration, but the recreational runners fared better than both other groups, better even than those that didn’t run at all. This conclusion was based on a review of studies on 114,829 people, making the results quite reliable.


So what is the bottom line? Moderation. Too much of a good thing is usually bad. Moderate running has many advantages, including weight loss, muscle strengthening, lung health and per latest studies, prevention of herniated discs and back pain. Further, as long as not overdone, running will not cause knee and hip problems, making this option extremely attractive to patients seeking to improve their health. 

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