Is Wear and Tear a Valid Argument?
By: Brett P. Guist BHSc, MSc, CSCS
on Apr 06, 2012
Many people who exercise regularly are well aware of its benefits. Impact exercise such as weight lifting, running, etc can increase bone and joint health as well as improve body composition and lower your risks for many different diseases. However, sometimes the “wear and tear” argument creeps up. This argument states that performing activities over time can lead to degenerative changes in your body. One of the main degenerative diseases is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is defined as, “Degeneration of articular cartilage, which may also affect the underlying bone of a joint causing pain and stiffness” (Kent, 2006). Some healthcare professionals believe that one of the major causes of OA is wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is a very complicated disease, and its relationship with exercise is extremely complex, however there is an increasing body of research that suggests exercise is beneficial.
A landmark article by Ian Shrier, MD entitled “Muscle Dysfunction Versus Wear and Tear as a Cause of Exercise Related Osteoarthritis: An Epidemiological Update” looked at the two basic hypotheses for the cause of primary, exercise related OA, wear and tear versus muscle dysfunction. What Shrier found is that although OA is a complex and multi-factorial condition, muscle dysfunction is an underlying cause.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself, “How does this relate to what I do at the gym?” Shrier’s article highlights the importance of proper form and body biomechanics. If one performs their exercises, and by extension their everyday activities, with proper form they should be at a decreased risk of developing primary OA. In fact, performing exercise with proper form can help to decrease injuries in general and prolong the length of time that one can exercise over their lifetime!
Kent, M, editor. Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science and Medicine (Third Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Shrier, I. Muscle dysfunction versus wear and tear as a cause of exercise related osteoarthritis: an epidemiological update. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2004;38: 526-535. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2003.011262