There are no downsides to increasing range of motion and strengthening

The following three articles demonstrate that exercises do improve the symptoms associated with knee arthritis; there is no downside to increasing range of motion and strengthening the knee. In fact, these exercises will make your knee feel better.

1. Click here to read the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) study, “Randomized trial comparing aerobic exercise and resistance exercise with a health education program in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: The Fitness Arthritis and Seniors Trial (FAST)”


Objective: To determine the effects of structured exercise programs on self-reported disability in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.

Setting and design: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial lasting 18 months conducted at 2 academic medical centers.

Participants: A total of 439 community-dwelling adults, aged 60 years or older, with radiographically evident knee osteoarthritis, pain, and self-reported physical disability.

Interventions: An aerobic exercise program, a resistance exercise program, and a health education program.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was self-reported disability score (range, 1-5). The secondary outcomes were knee pain score (range, 1-6), performance measures of physical function, x-ray score, aerobic capacity, and knee muscle strength.

Results: A total of 365 (83%) participants completed the trial. Overall compliance with the exercise prescription was 68% in the aerobic training group and 70% in the resistance training group. Postrandomization, participants in the aerobic exercise group had a 10% lower adjusted mean (+/- SE) score on the physical disability questionnaire (1.71 +/- 0.03 vs 1.90 +/- 0.04 units; P<.001), a 12% lower score on the knee pain questionnaire (2.1 +/- 0.05 vs 2.4 +/- 0.05 units; P=.001), and performed better (mean [+/- SE]) on the 6-minute walk test (1507 +/- 16 vs 1349 +/- 16 ft; P<.001), mean (+/-SE) time to climb and descend stairs (12.7 +/- 0.4 vs 13.9 +/- 0.4 seconds; P=.05), time to lift and carry 10 pounds (9.1 +/- 0.2 vs 10.0 +/- 0.1 seconds; P<.001), and mean (+/-SE) time to get in and out of a car (8.7 +/- 0.3 vs 10.6 +/- 0.3 seconds; P<.001) than the health education group. The resistance exercise group had an 8% lower score on the physical disability questionnaire (1.74 +/- 0.04 vs 1.90 +/- 0.03 units; P=.003), 8% lower pain score (2.2 +/- 0.06 vs 2.4 +/- 0.05 units; P=.02), greater distance on the 6-minute walk (1406 +/- 17 vs 1349 +/- 16 ft; P=.02), faster times on the lifting and carrying task (9.3 +/- 0.1 vs 10.0 +/- 0.16 seconds; P=.001), and the car task (9.0 +/- 0.3 vs 10.6 +/- 0.3 seconds; P=.003) than the health education group. There were no differences in x-ray scores between either exercise group and the health education group.

Conclusions: Older disabled persons with osteoarthritis of the knee had modest improvements in measures of disability, physical performance, and pain from participating in either an aerobic or a resistance exercise program. These data suggest that exercise should be prescribed as part of the treatment for knee osteoarthritis.

2. Click here to read NLM’s article “Exercise and Osteoarthritis”


Exercise remains an extremely popular leisure time activity in many countries throughout the western world. It is widely promoted in the lay press as having salutory benefits for weight control, disease management advantages for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in addition to improving psychological well-being amongst an array of other benefits. In contrast, however, the lay press and community perception is also that exercise is potentially deleterious to one’s joints. The purpose of this review is to consider what osteoarthritis (OA) is and provide an overview of the epidemiology of OA focusing on validated risk factors for its development. In particular the role of both exercise and occupational activity in OA will be described as well as the role of exercise to the joints’ tissues (particularly cartilage) and the role of exercise in disease management. Despite the common misconception that exercise is deleterious to one’s joints, in the absence of joint injury there is no evidence to support this notion. Rather it would appear that exercise has positive salutory benefits for joint tissues in addition to its other health benefits.

3. Click here to read NLM’s article “Is There an Association Between a History of Running and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis? A Cross-Sectional Study From the Osteoarthritis Initiative


Objective: Regular physical activity, including running, is recommended based on known cardiovascular and mortality benefits. However, controversy exists regarding whether running can be harmful to knees. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship of running with knee pain, radiographic osteoarthritis (OA), and symptomatic OA.

Methods: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of Osteoarthritis Initiative participants (2004-2014) with knee radiograph readings, symptom assessments, and completed lifetime physical activity surveys. Using logistic regression, we evaluated the association of history of leisure running with the outcomes of frequent knee pain, radiographic OA, and symptomatic OA. Symptomatic OA required at least 1 knee with both radiographic OA and pain.

Results: Of 2,637 participants, 55.8% were female, the mean ± SD age was 64.3 ± 8.9 years, and the mean ± SD body mass index was 28.5 ± 4.9 kg/m2 ; 29.5% of these participants ran at some time in their lives. Unadjusted odds ratios of pain, radiographic OA, and symptomatic OA for those prior runners and current runners compared to those who never ran were 0.83 and 0.71 (P for trend = 0.002), 0.83 and 0.78 (P for trend = 0.01), and 0.81 and 0.64 (P for trend = 0.0006), respectively. Adjusted models were similar, except radiographic OA results were attenuated.

Conclusion: There is no increased risk of symptomatic knee OA among self-selected runners compared with nonrunners in a cohort recruited from the community. In those without OA, running does not appear to be detrimental to the knees.