As people grow older, damage accumulates in the body and can lead to chronic discomfort. This is especially true of load-bearing parts of the body such as the hips, knees, and ankles. Very often by the time an individual reaches middle age it can be quite uncomfortable to walk or run because of such pain. The generic term for inflammation and pain in the joints is rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is caused by the build-up of damage in the connective tissue and bones associated with a particular joint. When a joint moves, various parts of the body are brought into play. As the muscles expand and contract to cause movement, cartilage buffers the bones from rubbing directly against each other and ligaments stretch and pull as they hold onto bone at one end and muscle fibers at the other. Over time cartilage is worn away and ligaments become calcified due to repeated micro-tears. The net effect is persistent inflammation of the joint and resulting chronic pain.
A very common cause of rheumatoid arthritis is excessive weight, because it causes tissues to be over-stressed and cartilage to erode faster. Significant weight loss can therefore ease the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, especially when coupled to anti-inflammatory agents such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
Another common cause of rheumatoid arthritis is poor body mechanics. This is especially prevalent in people who were active in their teens, twenties and thirties but did not receive coaching on correct body placement and technique. It is common for runners to develop arthritis in the hips, knees and sometimes ankles because of incorrect stride pattern. Sometimes it is because a foot was turned a little too far in or out, sometimes because the hips were not facing fully frontward. Recurring injuries such as groin strains and swollen knees are early tell-tale signs of poor body mechanics that, if left uncorrected, will eventually result in rheumatoid arthritis.