By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Recreational exercisers have a much lower incidence of knee replacements than their non-exercising peers. One study from Finland showed that the more years a person exercised, the less likely he was to require a knee replacement (Rheumatology, Volume 40, 2001). Regular exercise strengthens bones and joints and helps to prevent damage to the joints.
Yet other studies have shown that former competitive athletes have the highest rate of knee replacements. Athletic competition requires a person to compete on preset days, whether he is injured or not. Competition requires year-round training and athletes hate to take days off, so they often train and compete while injured.
It is amazing how many coaches and exercise instructors preach mental toughness and the ability to exercise through pain, when this kind of thinking often results in catastrophic injuries that damage million-dollar athletes permanently. When a pain worsens as you exercise, go home so you can exercise again another day.
If you have damaged cartilage in your knee at any age, you need to protect that knee for the rest of your life. Running and jumping cause further damage, while cycling or swimming usually do not. When the knee hurts all the time, your doctor will check to see how much cartilage is left. When it’s gone, it’s time for a knee replacement.
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Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports — and the FREE Good Food Book — at http://www.DrMirkin.com