Wolff’s Law was developed by a brilliant German anatomist and surgeon, Julius Wolff (1836–1902). It states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed. If loading on a bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that type of loading. The inverse is true as well: if the loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become less dense and weaker due to the lack of the stimulus required for continued remodelling.
Wolff’s Law also shows that the ‘running is bad for the knees’ mantra is misguided; the bones will adapt to the load of running and become denser, and therefore running will actually help prevent arthritis, rather than promote it. Cyclists are also beginning to understand the importance of Wolff’s Law as many professional cyclists who had traditionally avoided weight-bearing activities are showing signs of early onset osteopenia and suffering fractures from small falls, so now many teams are incorporating running or walking into their bike training regime.
So, to prevent all types of fractures and osteoarthritis, introduce new stressors to your body in planned, incremented doses, move on your feet and lift some weights. Thanks Dr. Wolff!