New research from Brigham Young University (BYU) has found that running can protect knees.

Matt Seeley, Ph.D., A.T.C., is associate professor of exercise science at BYU. He and BYU colleagues Sarah Ridge, Ph.D., and Ty Hopkins, Ph.D., have found that running reduces inflammation in the joint.

“It flies in the face of intuition, ” said Dr. Seeley, associate professor of exercise science at BYU, in the December 8, 2016 news release. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.”

Their study, published in the December 2016 edition of European Journal of Applied Physiology, also involved Dr. Eric Robinson from Intermountain Healthcare. The scientists measured inflammation markers in the knee joint fluid of several healthy men and women aged 18-35, both before and after running.

“The researchers found that the specific markers they were looking for in the extracted synovial fluid—two cytokines named GM-CSF and IL-15—decreased in concentration in the subjects after 30 minutes of running. When the same fluids were extracted before and after a non-running condition, the inflammation markers stayed at similar levels.”

“What we now know is that for young, healthy individuals, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment that may be beneficial in terms of long-term joint health, ” said study lead author Robert Hyldahl, Ph.D., BYU assistant professor of exercise science.

Dr. Seeley told OTW, “The primary impetus for this project was actually a desire to know how well serum COMP [Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein] concentration represents synovial fluid COMP concentration. In other words, how well do serum concentrations of certain molecules that are now used to reflect knee articular cartilage health represent articular cartilage changes that might be occurring at the knee joint?”

“There appears to be a beneficial effect of 30 minutes of running, on knee articular cartilage, for young (18-40 years) uninjured individuals. Running might be medicine for knee articular cartilage for certain individuals.”

“The concentration of certain pro-inflammatory molecules, that have previously been associated with osteoarthritis onset and progression, decreased as a result of 30 minutes of running (some might have expected these concentrations to increase, as a result of running for 30 minutes).”

“We want to increase the sample size, as well as test the observations in other groups of individuals who are more likely to get knee OA (e.g., obese individuals, or elderly individuals, or individuals who have experienced certain knee injuries).”


Originally published in RY Ortho

by Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed.