Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Which Volume Of Running Is Associated With Improvements In Knee Cartilage Health?

June 17, 2024

Previous research has shown exercise has a protective effect on knee cartilage and the development of osteoarthritis.  Cartilage is a metabolic tissue dependent on loading and movement to improve its’ tissue health.  Authors have found both sedentary individuals and high frequency marathon runners to be at an increased risk of osteoarthritis, but importantly active individuals have a decreased risk of developing arthritis.  A recent study examined which running volumes are associated with improvements in knee cartilage health.

Jandacka and colleagues published their findings on which running volumes are best associated with knee cartilage structure in health adults (Med Sci Sp Ex. 2024).  Authors conducted a large cross sectional study of close to 1200 runners and non runners aged 18-65.  Each participant underwent MRI testing and a running gait analysis.  They found older male had the highest incidence of knee arthritis.  Importantly, they noted runners who ran between 6-20 km/week showed a higher quality of knee cartilage compared to highly active individuals and sedentary peers.  This study adds to our understanding of the potential risks of both sedentary behavior and high level exercise volumes, but the benefits of more moderate volumes of weekly activity including running.

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