• Running with Osteoporosis??

    December 8, 2015 MVP Blog comments

    Q: Is running or jogging good or bad for people with mild osteoporis? A: “Like so many things in medicine, there is no easy yes or no answer” to that question, said Dr. Bjoern Buehring, an assistant professor of medicine and director of the Osteoporosis Clinical Research Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    (NYtimes.com, by Gretchen Reynolds, photo credit 123rf.com)

    In general, he said, some degree of loading and pounding, such as occurs during running, is healthy for bones. “Whenever a load or force acts on a bone, it deforms the tissue” to some extent, he said. Afterward, the affected bones return to their normal shape and, through a remarkable physiological prescience, recognize that they need to be stronger in order to fully withstand that same force next time. So the body stimulates the production of more bone cells. In that way, running prompts bones to become denser and stronger.

    But this process only works if bones can tolerate the original stress without bowing and breaking, Dr. Buehring said. People with mild osteoporosis may have bones that are too brittle to bounce back from the forces applied during running — or their bones may not respond well. In fact, bones from two people with the same measured density can respond quite differently to real-world conditions, such as jogging.

    So the best option for someone with a diagnosis such as yours is to consult your doctor about your particular fracture risk. If you have cracked a bone in the recent past and the break was attributed to osteoporosis, he said, your doctor will probably tell you that your fracture risk is high and running is inadvisable.

    If, on the other hand, your doctor tells you that your fracture risk appears to be low, “it actually might be important to go jogging,” Dr. Buehring said, “because lower-intensity activities,” such as swimming or strolling, “might not load the bone enough” to stimulate further strengthening.

    Start slowly, however, if you are new to jogging, he advises. Add distance or speed gradually, and check with your doctor if aches in your legs linger or intensify.