Running with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis can lead to what are called 'hair line fractures' or even more serious fractures where bone actually snaps/breaks.
Running puts real stress on your bones. When you run, the full weight of your body comes down on the foot/leg that hits the ground. It is rather like jumping a few inched into the air and landing on one foot. Then doing the same with the other leg/foot...and repeating this 'jump-land' over and over again in rapid succession.
If your bones are weak to start with this constant stress maybe to much and you will suffer a hairline fracture....or even a full fracture.
But you may have read that 'Regular stress is good for your bones. It stimulates your osteoblasts (bone building cells) and when they are activated, we grow additional bone so our bones become thicker and stronger. This is why so many urge exercises such as lifting some weights as a way to build stronger bones.
Running is different from walking or even light (slow) jogging - neither of which seems to pose the same problem as running does for men or women who have been diagnosed with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis. Why the difference?
It has to do with how much stress is placed on your bones when you run. It is true that we need stress on our bones since that stress stimulates our osteoblasts (bone building cells). BUT when the stress (sometimes called "load") on our bones is too great and/or too sudden, it can overwhelm weakened bone and our bone fracture.Sometimes it can be a 'hairline fracture' but other times with a full break.
Running with Osteopenia is dangerous because it puts great load on already weakened bone.
OK. You do not want a fracture and yet you may not want to give up running either. What to do? Talk with your medical provider and/or make an appointment with a physician who practices "Sports Medicine".
Now that is a Sports medicine doctor NOT an Orthopedist. Orthopedists see persons who already have a significant injury. Sports medicine doctors provide preventative care to help athletes prevent injuries. That is what you want.
You do not need surgery to set a broken bone ( Orthopedist) you need a doctor who can show you how to prevent an Osteoporosic fracture when you run.
To find a physician practicing Sports Medicine in your area you can also check out the American Medical Society page. Making an appointment with a medical provider schooled in this particular area of medicine is sensible if you want to continue running. To reach a the American Medical Society page click on Running with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.
You will not be sorry. Their site offers many articles, a newsletter, podcasts mechanism for searching for Sports Medicine practitioners by zip code.
There are Sports Medicine practitioners on every major continent and in almost every country with an active running program. Example: You can find practitioners in Europe by visiting European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations and there are so many other groups such as: Austrailia - Sports Medicine Australia; Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine; British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine. Just do a web search for your own country if the issue of Running with Osteopenia is of interest to you.