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Progressive High-Impact Training Beneficial To Osteoarthritis Patients

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Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee can benefit from jumping exercises, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers found that progressive high-impact training improved the patellar cartilage quality of postmenopausal women who may be at risk of osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.

The study at the University of Jyväskylä examined the effects of high-impact exercise on knee cartilage, osteoarthritis symptoms and physical function in postmenopausal women with mild knee osteoarthritis.

Eighty postmenopausal women aged between 50 and 65 and with mild knee osteoarthritis took part in the research and were randomly assigned to either a training group or a non-intervention control group.

Participants in the training group exercised according a supervised progressive high-impact exercise programme three times a week for 12 months, while the control group continued their normal physical activity. The effects of exercise on the patellar cartilage were measured by T2 relaxation time mapping, a parameter sensitive to collagen integrity, collagen orientation and tissue hydration. Leg muscle strength and power, aerobic capacity and self-rated assessment by the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) were also measured, according to a report in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“The breaking of the collagen network and increased free water in the articular cartilage is considered to represent the onset of the degenerative process of osteoarthritis. If those cartilage breaking changes can be hindered, stopped or even improved the quality of the cartilage via appropriate physical activity, it might slow down the disease progression,” explained doctoral student and OMT physiotherapist Jarmo Koli from the University of Jyväskylä´s Department of Health Sciences.

Analysis of the results showed that training improved the quality of the patellar cartilage and physical function. The most efficient exercise for improving bone strength was found to be high-impact loading (a jumping type of exercise), as well as rapid change of movement directions. Previously, this type of exercise was thought to be harmful for the integrity of articular cartilage, the university said.

The researchers also noted that the training regime was very well tolerated; it did not induce knee pain or stiffness, and the general training compliance was high.

In conclusion, the study authors said that postmenopausal women with mild knee osteoarthritis should be allowed and even encouraged to progressively implement high-impact loading exercises to maintain and improve their health and functional ability.