Is the immediate effect of marathon running on novice runners' knee joints sustained within 6 months after the run? A follow-up 3.0 T MRI study

Laura Maria Horga, Johann Henckel, Anastasia Fotiadou, Anna C Hirschmann, Anna Di Laura, Camilla Torlasco, Andrew D'Silva, Sanjay Sharma, James C Moon, Alister J Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate changes in the knee joints of asymptomatic first-time marathon runners, using 3.0 T MRI, 6 months after finishing marathon training and run.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Six months after their participation in a baseline study regarding their knee joints, 44 asymptomatic novice marathoners (17 males, 27 females, mean age 46 years old) agreed to participate in a repeat MRI investigation: 37 completed both a standardized 4-month-long training programme and the marathon (marathon runners); and 7 dropped out during training (pre-race dropouts). The participants already underwent bilateral 3.0 T MRIs: 6 months before and 2 weeks after their first marathon, the London Marathon 2017. This study was a follow-up assessment of their knee joints. Each knee structure was assessed using validated scoring/grading systems at all time points.

RESULTS: Two weeks after the marathon, 3 pre-marathon bone marrow lesions and 2 cartilage lesions showed decrease in radiological score on MRI, and the improvement was sustained at the 6-month follow-up. New improvements were observed on MRI at follow-up: 5 pre-existing bone marrow lesions and 3 cartilage lesions that remained unchanged immediately after the marathon reduced in their extent 6 months later. No further lesions appeared at follow-up, and the 2-week post-marathon lesions showed signs of reversibility: 10 of 18 bone marrow oedema-like signals and 3 of 21 cartilage lesions decreased on MRI.

CONCLUSION: The knees of novice runners achieved sustained improvement, for at least 6 months post-marathon, in the condition of their bone marrow and articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1229
Number of pages9
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Volume49
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

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