Muscle strength and balance are important for healthy joints

Causes of joint osteoarthritis

Long-term participation in impact sports has been cited as a controversial, but possible, cause of joint osteoarthritis.

Based on available evidence, there is no direct correlation between long-term exercise and osteoarthritis.

Preventing osteoarthritis

Since muscle function and muscle balance help absorb the forces that impact the joints, muscles that work well may protect joints from excessive wear and tear. Regular exercise promotes good muscle function and may, over time, prevent osteoarthritis.

As we age we typically exercise less, so muscle dysfunction is more likely; weakness and imbalance increases. In addition, a cycle begins as the joint starts to wear down and becomes painful, the ability to exercise is diminished, and the muscles weaken. As muscles weaken over time, impact forces worsen, and may cause further wear and tear on the joint.

Exercise helps prevent osteoarthritis

Results suggest that regular mild to moderate impact exercise does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis or increase existing mild to moderate osteroarthritis. This supports the idea that muscle dysfunction, not exercise, is a possible cause of wear and tear arthritis. Maintaining good muscle function and balance may help protect joints and ensure a lifelong ability to exercise.

Based on current evidence, strengthening and endurance exercise may even relieve symptoms and improve the function of joints with mild to moderate arthritis. The joint stability provided by muscles during movement prevents excessive stress. The implication of these findings is that proper rehabilitation after an injury may be crucial in ensuring good joint function and preventing further degeneration. While more extensive study is needed, it seems clear that good muscle function may offer relief from joint pain and degeneration.

While more extensive research is needed, it seems clear that good muscle function may offer relief from joint pain and degeneration.

Last reviewed: 
June 2018

Interested in using our health content?