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Thesis Format



Master of Science




Dr. Derek Pamukoff


Competitive compared with recreational runners have increased odds of having osteoarthritis and running-related injury, which may be from engaging in different types of running. We compared femoral cartilage deformation in competitive runners following a continuous and high-intensity interval run and evaluated the association between running kinetics and cartilage deformation. Twenty-four competitive runners (11 females and 13 males) underwent ultrasound imaging of femoral cartilage before and after two running sessions that were one week apart in a counterbalanced order. Repeated measures 2 x 2 ANOVA revealed lateral femoral cartilage had greater deformation after interval compared to continuous running. Collapsed across conditions, medial femoral cartilage had similar deformation after running. Pearson correlation demonstrated no associations between cartilage deformation and vertical loading rate, peak ground reaction force, or impulse. Interval running may contribute to cartilage deformation through increased joint stress. Runners returning from patellofemoral pain should avoid high-intensity interval running to limit symptoms.

Summary for Lay Audience

Running is a popular form of exercise that may contribute to joint disease in competitive groups. Competitive runners train at fast speeds that can increase force placed on joints. A high amount of force and how fast that force acts on the limb may contribute to joint damage. Cartilage is part of the joint that covers the ends of bones to facilitate movement without restriction. Cartilage damage is present in osteoarthritis, which is a common degenerative joint disease. We examined the change in cartilage size after a fast interval run compared to a slow continuous run. We also examined if the change in cartilage size would relate to how fast force was applied to the body during running. Twenty-four competitive runners participated in this study. Participants had ultrasound images taken of the top of their knees from above the kneecap. These images happened before and after running on a treadmill. Participants were injury free and wore the same shoes for both visits a week apart. The fast interval running session was 10 x 400 meters with a 300-meter jog rest. The continuous running session was a continuous 7-kilometer run at a slower pace. After faster interval running, the outside part of knee cartilage was thinner than after the continuous slower run. The inside part of knee cartilage was similarly thinner after running between conditions. The middle section of knee cartilage was not different after running. No relationships were found between forces during running and the change in cartilage size. We concluded that fast interval running might increase stress to the outside of the joint and cause cartilage to briefly become thinner. This could be from participants bending their knees more which puts more stress on the outside of the knee and may happen in fast running. We recommend that runners who have pain on the front of their knee or behind their kneecap should avoid fast interval running to limit pain.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Sunday, August 04, 2024

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