Does Exercise Cause Osteoarthritis ?

Does exercise cause osteoarthritis

There is a balance of doing too much exercise and doing too little exercise, especially in children and teenagers whose skeletons are still developing.

Arthritis Research UK and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have conducted a survey on whether people are doing enough exercises and if they are exercising safely (warming up and warming down). I believe these are both significant factors that contribute to someone developing osteoarthritis. So in what way does exercise cause osteoarthritis?

Start by reading this article in the Carrick Times. It explains the outcome of the survey.

Why Does Exercise Cause Osteoarthritis

How many time did I hear over my years in practice “I played a lot of sport when I was young”. My next question was always “Did you warm up and down?” The answer was invariably “We didn’t do that sort of thing in my day!”

Actually they do not do it today either! I watch my kids play sport and listen about their day at school. Most teachers/coaches idea of warming up is to run them twice around the pitch or court. That is NOT a warm up and in fact you should warm up to do that! When you question teachers/coaches about it there is either total ignorance on the subject or I get the answer “We haven’t got time to warm up, warm down and get everything done”.

If you do not warm up and warm down from exercise you increase the risk of injury. As I have discussed before previous injury is a common cause of osteoarthritis, especially if the injury is not correctly treated.

I also wince at the amount of sport some youngsters do today. Their bones are forming and rest in between and days off are vital. Nowadays parents seem to think if their kids don’t do an activity almost every day then they will get in trouble. So they do 3,4, or 5 different sports each week, sometime 2 a day. That is so bad for them physically.

Equally sitting in front of computers and not doing enough exercise is just as bad for them. We need to put pressure through our bones to help keep them strong. If we don’t we increase the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones). These kids are more likely to be obese, increasing their risk of heart disease and diabetes etc. Plying computer games has also been shown to increase the risk of injury to the neck, elbows and hands so increasing the risk of osteoarthritis in those joints.

There has to be a happy medium with kids doing a well balanced amount of exercise with correct warm ups and downs. Modern sports medicine has known this for years and it has been practiced on the professional level for many years. It is about time it filtered down to club and school level. The professional footballers I worked with all rested for 2 or 3 days per week, our kids need to do the same at least.

The rising numbers of cases of osteoarthritis is being blamed on rising obesity. But, as with many things, it is wrong to blame one factor. Our genetics haven’t changed much in a while (probably a few million years!) and so they are not to blame in the increase in levels of osteoarthritis. Look at our ancestors and you will find less obesity but still there are significant numbers of people whose bones show degeneration. Did they warm up or warm down before hunting wild boar or buffalo or working all day in the fields? I doubt it somehow! Did they get proper treatment from injuries? I doubt that too!

But we should know better nowdays!

Does exercise cause osteoarthritis?

Yes, both too little and too much exercise does cause osteoarthritis.

Too much exercise causes repetitive injuries, especially on developing skeletons. When injured all too often the correct treatment is not given, with mum and dad thinking that a bit of strapping, a week off and all will be fine. Add that to the increase risk of injury due to incorrect warm up and down practices and you have a a high risk of developing osteoarthritis in later life.

Too little exercise and you will also suffer osteoarthritis, both from repetitive strain injuries and from an increased risk of osteoporosis.

The main problem is that OA creeps up on you over 10. 20 or 30 years (how quick it happens IS genetically dependent) and kids don’t worry about what will happen then as they will be ‘old’ anyway! It is up to us as parents and grandparents to worry and explain where our aches and pains came from, and prevent future generations suffering the same fate.

Do you believe the sports you did contribute to your osteoarthritis? Leave a comment below if you do.

If you already have osteoarthritis and you want to know if exercising will make it worse, then this article of exercising with osteoarthritis may help.

As usual if you have any specific questions about does exercise cause osteoarthritis or anything else for that matter please feel free to drop me a line.

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One Response to Does Exercise Cause Osteoarthritis ?

  1. Andreas Schonger says:

    I’ve been working hard on concrete for 20 years as a carpenter and have been very active in my free time. (Mountain climbing, strength training, lately high intensity interval training with uphill sprints, mountain bike racing, soccer and so on). I was just recently diagnosed with labral tears in both hips with osteoarthritis as well as osteoarthritis and tendinopathy in my ankles. Knees are achy too but I haven’t gotten any imaging yet because I don’t need any more bad news right now. So yes, I thought I could work and play hard until I’m at least 40. Almost made it, I’m only 39 years old though. Needless to say it hurts most of the time and I wish I would have been gentler with my body. But I was the fittest guy in town, so I never thought this would happen. Always training hard to get just a little faster and stronger. Now I’m hobbling around and need hip replacements on some point and probably surgery on my ankles and knees down the road. I guess we all get older, so I’ll try to be tough and take it day by day. Could always be worse.
    Good luck, and despite all the claim on how great exercise is, it’s more important to just take it easy.

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