The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Want To Lower Inflammation? Start Running!

Posted by on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017


Osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million Americans, is a runner’s worst nightmare. Nothing takes away your love of the race more than a stiff, inflamed knee that sears and throbs with every stride. There is good news from Brigham Young University researchers: the more you run, the less likely you are to suffer from joint inflammation! “It flies in the face of intuition,” admits study co-author Matt Seeley, but the results of their study suggests it may be a myth that long-distance running is bad for your knees.

knee inflammation
Want to protect your knees from osteoarthritis? Start running! Image Source:

 The Knee Inflammation Study

“Regular exercise protects against degenerative joint disorders, yet the mechanisms that underlie these benefits are poorly understood,” Brigham Young scientists noted. One of the things we do know is that chronic, low-grade inflammation almost always preempts the development of degenerative joint disease.

In new research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, Seeley and colleagues noted decreased markers for harmful inflammation (GM-CSF and IL-15) in the knee joint fluid of healthy men and women spanning the ages of 18-35 before and after running. In fact, the level of these cytokines actually decreased after 30 minutes of running.

What Do The Study Results Tell Us And Where Do We Go From Here?

Lead author Robert Hyldahl noted: “What we now know is that for young, healthy individuals, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment that may be beneficial in terms of long-term joint health.”

Seeley added: “This study does not indicate that distance runners are any more likely to get osteoarthritis than any other person. Instead, this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine.”

Next, researchers are looking to replicate the study results in larger populations. The study’s sample size was very small — examining just six participants. They will also need to study the effects of runs that last longer than 30 minutes. What about runners training for marathons, for instance? The scientists say they also plan to study subjects who have already suffered ACL injuries of the knee to see how running may impact their physiology and prospect for injury down the road.

Treating Inflammation and Sports Injuries In NYC

“It may be premature to say that we should all start long-distance running to prevent knee cartilage inflammation and degeneration,” says NYC sports medicine doctor, Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, DPM. “We treat lots of athletes who injure themselves trying to do too much, too soon,” he adds. “I am very interested in studies like this one, which confirm the benefits of remaining active.”

Dr. Geldert and our other sports medicine doctors primarily focus on conditions affecting the feet and ankles, but our understanding of total body biomechanics includes the knees. Other treatments offered for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee include:

  • Computerized gait analysis
  • Custom-printed orthotics
  • MLS pain laser
  • Platelet rich plasma injections
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Biopuncture injections
  • Cortisone shots
  • The Tenex FAST procedure

Dr. Geldwert adds: “Beyond that, I’m looking for findings we may be able to translate to other degenerative conditions caused or worsened by inflammation — such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis. Can a long-distance running program benefit these patients?”

The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has two offices in the NYC area, including one in Manhattan near Central Park and one in White Plains on Mitchell Place. Our sports medicine doctors and board-certified podiatric surgeons offer all the latest breakthroughs in technology to help athletes, particularly runners, get back to training faster and more effectively. Our goals are to get you pain-free as quickly as possible, then address the root cause of your injury, and finally, to counsel you on methods of preventing re-injury in the future.

Contact us to be seen without delay.




If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.