Does Exercise Damage the Knees and Ankles? – Study Says No

Jun 14, 2009 by

Does Exercise Damage the Knees and Ankles? – Study Says No

Everybody knows that exercise is critical for good health and vitality. Yet exercise, especially higher impact ones such as jogging, has also been blamed for causing damage to one’s joints, especially the ankles the knees. Is this a fact, or a misconception?

In the following article, research which puts this myth to bed is discussed. Exercise is important!

Exercise Does Not Hurt Joints: Study Debunks Common Myth

by Reuben Chow

Human bodies are made in such a way that physical activity is an important foundation of good health. Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, enhances blood circulation, improves waste elimination, and lifts the mood, among many other health benefits. But there are sometimes doubts posed by some parties and even experts on the potential damage exercise could have on the joints, especially those of the legs. A review of previously conducted studies which was recently published in the Journal of Anatomy could well have debunked such opinions. It found that, with regular exercise and no prior joint injury, there was no good evidence that exercise would harm one’s joints.

About Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition whereby joint linings degenerate, leading to symptoms such as stiffness, loss of mobility, and pain. It is an ailment often associated with injuries, old age and general “wear-and-tear”. Weight bearing joints are the most frequently affected, with over 10 million Americans said to have knee osteoarthritis, a condition which is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Details and Findings of Study

A study team comprising members from Boston, US and Ainring, Germany looked at past studies and found that, where there was no existing injury to the joints, there was no elevation of risk of osteoarthritis arising from exercise. Said David Hunter, MD, PhD from the New England Baptist Hospital, the leader of the study: “We found that in elite athletes where there was more likelihood of obtaining sports injuries, there was an increased risk of OA [osteoarthritis] in the damaged joints, but in most people vigorous, low-impact exercise is beneficial for both its physical and mental benefits.”

Additional body weight was found to be a problem. “The largest modifiable risk factor for knee OA is body weight, such that each additional kilogram of body mass increases the compressive load over the knee by roughly 4kg,” Hunter also said. Logically speaking, with exercise helping to keep weight down, it could in fact serve to lower one’s chances of getting osteoarthritis.

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