Can Exercise Improve Cartilage? YES!

Reference:Roos EM, Dahlberg L. Positive effects of moderate exercise on glycosaminoglycan content in knee cartilage: a four-month, RCT in patients at risk of OA. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Nov;52(11):3507-14.

Although running/exercising does not seem to cause OA, regular joint loading appears to actually benefit knee cartilage glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content. GAG is essential as a lubricant and shock absorber.

The subjects in this study were 35-50 year olds who had had partial meniscotomy 3-5 years earlier.

They were randomly allocated to either a physical therapy exercise group or a control group. The exercises provided by the PTs included resisted weight bearing exercises with focus on strength and neural control retraining, 3 times per week for 4 months.

The control group did not receive any PT exercise intervention.

In a Nutshell: The subjects in the PT group had a significant increase in their GAG content of their knee cartilage. This in vivo cartilage study showed that those at risk of knee OA should begin exercising as adult human articular cartilage has a strong potential to adapt to loading change.

Basically moderate strength and neural control training exercises are likely good for your knee cartilage and its GAG content, especially if you’ve had meniscal repair and are worried about developing OA in the future.

Personal Comment: There are few things that irritate me more than when I hear health care providers giving bad advice to patients …such as,

“Your joints can be considered to be like a car tire. If they are out of alignment or if you overuse them by walking or running you will wear away at the cartilage leading to arthritis”

What a bunch of B.S.! This kind of talk does nothing but add more fear to an already worried and possibly inactive patient. The difference between a car tire and the human joint is that a car tire is dead …but a live joint is organic and continuously regenerating and adapting to reasonable loads placed on it.

Posted on: August 23, 2014

Categories: Knee

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