Training for events ranging from 10km to marathons promotes bone health for the future, says a new study

Training for endurance events has a preserving effect on the skeleton and promotes bone health for the future, according to a new Spanish study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Researchers from Camilo Jose Cela University in Madrid found that training for events ranging from 10km to marathons has a positive effect on calcaneus bone stiffness, a combined measure of density and stiffness of a bone that forms the heel of the foot.

Using bone density tests, the team measured calcaneus bone stiffness in 122 marathon runners and 81 half-marathon and 10km runners.

Comparing results with measurements obtained from a control group of non-runners, the scientists found that both the male and female athletes had denser bones and that the amount of training they did positively correlated with improvements in bone mineral density. In other words, the more they ran, the stronger their skeleton.

Pushing the pain barrier

Elite marathon runners are up to four times more likely to train through nagging pain than their recreational counterparts.

A study of 199 top marathon runners by exercise scientists at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil found that 75% reported musculoskeletal pain at some point during the previous 12 months, yet pushed through it to continue training.

A similar study five years previously had revealed that only 20% of male recreational runners and 27% of their female counterparts ran on through similar discomfort.

Of the niggles experienced by the elite runners in the latest investigation, the most common were in the lower leg (19.1%), the knee (15.2%), the Achilles tendon (14.5%) and the thigh (12.8%).

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