Running and knee osteoarthritis, pre-run static stretching

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

Two studies in this post that remind us to keep an open mind until the science is settled.

Running and knee osteoarthritis

If there is one health factor for which it seems running may be bad for us, that would be knee osteoarthritis. Do we essentially wear our knees out by running? Possibly.

Or, possibly, not.

These results, the team says, suggest that regular running does not raise the risk of knee osteoarthritis among the general population; it may actually protect against the disease.

Is it a sure thing? Hardly. However, this is a positive sign and this also makes sense intuitively. While we do place a lot of strain on our knees while running, most runners will not run upwards of 1 hour per day. For the other 15 hours (if you figure 16 waking hours a day) we’re carrying less weight around on our knees as the average runner weighs less than the average non-runner.

Which is harder on the knees? Running 1 hour or less per day or carrying extra weight all day? It’s hard to say for sure but this gives us some hope that there is another positive health aspect to running. At the very least, it might not be bad for us in this one way it has seemed it could be. Again, hardly a sure thing right now but definitely something I’d like to see more on.

Pre-run static stretching

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about how pre-run static stretching is probably bad for your running performance. It makes sense. Elastic muscles are more efficient as they can act like springs or rubber bands to store energy when stretched and release that energy upon contraction.

However, a new study suggests this may not be the case:

These data suggest that SS of short duration (<30 sec) may actually improve acute speed performance, whereas SS of moderate duration may not hamper speed and agility performance.

What to make of this? Personally, I’m not taking too much into this at the moment, other than to keep an open mind. Maybe static stretching is bad. Maybe it’s actually good. It’s hard to say right now. This is the nature of science, though. We don’t always have a clear picture of things.

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