There is one thing that all doctors and scientists agree will help fight off arthritis.
You should absolutely be doing this.
However, a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that doing too much of this can drastically increase your arthritis pain in the long haul.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted two studies on the same sample of participants, the first on lower limbs and the second on the spine and upper limbs. As such, we can easily discuss them together.
They were aware of previous statistics suggesting that serious sportspeople may be at risk of developing osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that is considered to stem mostly from wear and tear on the joints.
They recruited 3,357 retired Olympians in 57 sports, such as athletics, skiing, rowing, and swimming. The average age of the Olympians was 44.7. The researchers also recruited 1,735 people from the general population for comparison.
They asked all their participants to complete a questionnaire that included questions on demographics, general health, osteoarthritis status, current joint pain, and history of injuries.
In analyzing the data, they made the following discoveries.
1. Overall, the odds of developing osteoarthritis did not differ between retired Olympians and the general population.
2. Female Olympians were twice as likely as women from the general population to develop cervical spine osteoarthritis.
3. Olympians with prior knee and hip injuries were 51% more likely than the general population with such prior injuries to develop knee arthritis and three times more likely to have hip arthritis.
4. Compared with the general population, Olympians were 43% more likely to suffer from lumbar spine pain.
5. Compared with the general population with similar prior injuries, Olympians were 1.64 times more likely to develop shoulder arthritis after shoulder injury.
6. 23.2% of retired Olympians developed osteoarthritis, with the knee being the most affected joint.
7. 40% of retired Olympians complained of current joint pain, with the lumbar spine being the worst affected.
What does all this mean?
The most important findings are probably the third and fifth points above, which suggest that injuries have worse effects on osteoarthritis in serious sportspeople than they do in the general population.
A possible explanation is that sportspeople rush back into competitions too soon after their injuries, which places considerable strain on their joints. They also tend to suffer repeated injuries to the same joints, unlike the general population.
The lesson here is clear. If you are a serious athlete, treat your joints well after injuries, and they will treat you well as you age.
Most importantly, if you suffer from arthritis of any kind (whether you are a sportsperson or not), follow the example of thousands of readers who completely reversed their arthritis using the simple lifestyle changes explained here…