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Old 11-05-2013, 10:56 AM   #1
Jeremy Schultz
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Arthritis from intense workouts?

This may be a stupid and/or non-scientifically-supportable question. And I am really "just wondering", rather than asking from direct experience.

But anyway, does anyone have any thoughts/knowledge about long-term, high-intensity exercise, such as Crossfit or powerlifting (or endurance running, track-and-field, etc, for that matter) on the level or severity of geriatric osteoarthritis?

I guess that reason I ask is I have a medical background and see patients every day that have had some random injury to a joint (for example), often years ago, that has led to severe, sometimes debilitating arthritis.

So, I often think about those injuries after a workout like Diane, and my lower back is tight/achy for 2-3 days afterward (another example). Obviously, I am not stressing the joints and/or spinal discs enough to cause injury, but am I causing enough stress to cause slight amounts of joint trauma or cartilage breakdown that will lead to a lot more arthritis in 20 years than I would have if I was a couch potato?

Thanks for any insight.
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:44 PM   #2
Nik Nichols
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

I have done Crossfit from 2008 and had and have arthritis in my lower back and compete and train heavy squat over 300lbs every day for 5 days dead lift heavy(for me) all lifts as heavy as I can,

For my back it seems that it helps, Some days I am hurting out of bed and after a morning warm up (pullup pushups, situps, squat, HSPUs GHDs, back ext) I feel better and alot of times after my heavy squat at 10:00am befor my 12:00 workout I feel no pain after I squat.

I am 46 years old, 5 foot 6in 175lbs.
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Old 11-06-2013, 07:29 AM   #3
robin finlayson
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

I have been battling Arthritis for a few years now, primarily in my feet. I have difficulty with lunges and pushing off the rear foot. I have also noticed in the last 2 years I have been getting chronic wrist pain. My wrist gets worse the more time I take off from lifting. I just recently had prolo therapy and found some relief in one foot (I have tried cortisone, oral medication, and acupuncture with little relief). I am hopeful further treatments will yield positive results in the other affected areas.

I think you are at greater risk of long term health problems with the couch potato scenario than you are with the crossfit scenario. In managing my own health and training I use mobility, compression, and decreasing weight working on full ROM during times of increased pain.
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:23 AM   #4
Jeremy Schultz
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

Thanks for the input and for relaying your own experiences, guys.

I am actually a veterinarian, and I see horses with severe hock arthritis all the time from years of hard work - such as racing, barrel racing, taking off out of the roping box, sliding stops in reining, etc.

All of that arthritis comes from over-use/intense-exercise over years, and it seems that something like Crossfit would be the "human version" of this stuff, and therefore would result in joint degradation over years of Crossfitting.

I completely understand that the pain of arthritis is helped/alleviated by doing physical activity, but that is a different issue than developing arthritis because of Crossfit.

I'm actually hoping I'm wrong...
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:35 AM   #5
Brian Strump
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

Most things done repetitively, with sub-optimal joint movement would also result in arthritis. It's been around for years well before CrossFit.

You will not find any causative correlation to high intensity exercise and arthritis. There are way too many variables to consider; mainly nutrition, and prior accident/injury history.
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Old 11-08-2013, 05:12 AM   #6
Steven Wingo
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

I would pose a related but different question:

Are people who do not learn proper movement techniques and who do not keep their joints in shape through functional exercise more likely to develop arthritis as they age?

As Brian points out, nutrition and sub-optimal joint movement are important in the development of arthritis. And as Robin points out, the health risks of being a couch potato are worse than the increased risk of arthritis (if any) anyway--I would trade achy joints in place of metabolic syndrome any day. But there is also an argument that proper exercise and movement will in fact delay or prevent arthritis.
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Old 11-09-2013, 01:32 PM   #7
Jeremy Schultz
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Wingo View Post
But there is also an argument that proper exercise and movement will in fact delay or prevent arthritis.
Thanks for the input; I was looking for support like your comment above. But again, hock arthritis in horses seems to contradict this. Mammals are mammals.
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:38 PM   #8
Steven Wingo
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

I'm not sure if a horse is a great comparison since it is a domesticated, specifically bred animal manipulated by humans over generations to perform specific tasks not necessarily intrinsic to being a wild horse--such as racing for a thoroughbred or repeated jumping for a jumper or hauling heavy loads for a draft horse. Arthritis in wild animals, as opposed to domesticated, would be a better indication that "normal" use can give rise to arthritis. I know that in the thoroughbred race horse world there is definitely criticism that breeding for speed has resulted in a higher rate of injury.
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Old 11-09-2013, 03:18 PM   #9
Chris Mason
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

It is a double edged sword. Heavy training can definitely cause premature wear and tear, but it can also keep joints healthy.
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Old 11-09-2013, 03:32 PM   #10
Jeremy Schultz
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Re: Arthritis from intense workouts?

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Originally Posted by Steven Wingo View Post
I'm not sure if a horse is a great comparison since it is a domesticated, specifically bred animal manipulated by humans over generations to perform specific tasks not necessarily intrinsic to being a wild horse--such as racing for a thoroughbred or repeated jumping for a jumper or hauling heavy loads for a draft horse. Arthritis in wild animals, as opposed to domesticated, would be a better indication that "normal" use can give rise to arthritis. I know that in the thoroughbred race horse world there is definitely criticism that breeding for speed has resulted in a higher rate of injury.
This makes sense, but at the same time, I'm not sure this is relevant since I wouldn't exactly say that CrossFit is necessarily intrinsic to being a human.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Mason View Post
It is a double edged sword. Heavy training can definitely cause premature wear and tear, but it can also keep joints healthy.
Thanks, Chris. This is my worry - maybe moderation is the key?
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