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Can Running Help Inflammation in Knee Joints?

Regular running is often associated with knee problems. However, there’s one condition that researchers now believe may improve with running: inflammation.

In a small study from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, six recreational runners aged 18–35 completed 30 minutes of running and a 30-minute “unloaded” control session. The study followed a counterbalanced design, meaning some subjects ran first and others began with the control session. Researchers extracted synovial fluid from study participants before and after the two interventions, to determine inflammation markers. Ground reaction forces were also measured.

There were no changes among inflammation markers during the unloaded control protocol. However, those markers improved after the run, suggesting a link between running and reduced knee inflammation. The researchers said reduced inflammation offers a protective effect and may postpone knee joint degeneration.

“This study does not indicate that distance runners are any more likely to get osteoarthritis than any other person,” explained BYU associate professor and study co-author, Matt Seeley, PhD, in a press release. “Instead, this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine.”

The study was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology (2016; 116 [11], 2305–15).

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