(Relaxnews) - Soccer players and long-distance runners, watch your knees, suggests a new study from Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
In new research announced last week, scientists examined which sports were the most likely to lead to knee arthritis. At the top of the list was both recreational and elite soccer, followed by competitive long-distance running, weight lifting, and wrestling. All of the 3,200 subjects involved in the study were athletic men, however, so how this applies to women is uncertain.
Researchers found no increased risk of osteoarthritis -- characterized by progressive damage to the joint cartilage -- in participants of basketball, boxing, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, orienteering, shooting, throwing, and track and field. The study was presented at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in Chicago.
The study counters other research that has found no increased risk of osteoarthritis in long-distance runners -- but some experts still urge caution.
In an interview with WebMD, Scott Zashin, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, recommends considering low-impact sports, such as doubles tennis, swimming, or cyling. Or try running on a soft surface to reduce the impact on your knees, he adds. Early adopters might want to check out the Sproing, a brand-new cardio machine designed to recreate the feeling of running on a beach.
Another way to spare your knees? If you're going to participate in high-risk sports like soccer, or if you already have knee injuries, be sure to maintain a healthy weight, noted Tuft's researcher Jeffrey Driban, PhD.
Obesity -- along with aging and family history -- is the biggest risk factor for osteoarthritis.