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Bone Loss In Runners - Is It A Myth Or Fact?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Shrish Dutt Mishra 89% (47 ratings)
MBBS, D.Ortho, DNB-Orthopaedic Surgery, M.Ch - Orthopaedics
Orthopedic Doctor, Delhi  •  26 years experience
Bone Loss In Runners - Is It A Myth Or Fact?

Thinking of running a marathon! Are you willing to risk your bones for it? You surely know that running decreases the risks of various disorders such as diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. Initially, certain theories were propounded which claimed that running increased one’s bone density. This has been proven otherwise, as recent research has shown that people who run for long distances actually suffer from reduced bone density as compared to somebody who doesn’t run as much.

  • A study was conducted that included women from different running categories. There were both recreational runners and elite runners included in the study. The average runner in the group ran at least 8-9 hours per week. Their eating habits were also evaluated to see whether it had any possible effect on bone loss.
  • The research concluded on the fact that women who logged most miles had lower bone density. A more specific calculation showed that logging every 10 km was interlinked with a 1%-2% dip in the bone density levels. Women who were more muscular were obviously less affected as compared to women who had less muscle mass.
  • While training, insufficient consumption of food can lead to a slow metabolism. An energy deficit is created wherein nutritional deficiencies crop up, resulting in bone density loss. Running for long periods is also equivalent to overtraining; so when a woman over trains, there is a dip in her estrogen levels. Any drop in a woman’s estrogen levels leads to loss of bone density.

Fact or Myth
Long distance running can lead to bone loss up to an extent, but this is again dependent on other factors such as hormones, food and strength training. If you have a well-balanced diet along with a proper strength training program, then long distance running will not cause much harm. Practice resistance training to strengthen your bones and muscles so that you don’t suffer from bone density loss while running.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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