Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1353–1359 | Cite as

The effect of a six-month training program followed by a marathon run on knee joint cartilage volume and thickness in marathon beginners

  • Stefan Hinterwimmer
  • Matthias J. FeuchtEmail author
  • Corinna Steinbrech
  • Heiko Graichen
  • Rüdiger von Eisenhart-Rothe
Sports Medicine



The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a 6-month period of intensive running followed by the participation at a marathon run on cartilage volume and thickness in knees of marathon beginners.


Ten asymptomatic marathon beginners underwent a supervised 6-month training program, which was finalized by the participation at a marathon run. Three-dimensional quantitative magnetic resonance imaging was performed before the training program (baseline measurements) and 1 day after the marathon (follow-up measurements). Cartilage volume and thickness of the medial and lateral femur, medial and lateral tibia, and patella were measured using semiautomated cartilage segmentation and three dimensional data postprocessing.


Significant differences between baseline and follow-up measurements were observed at the lateral femur, where cartilage volume and thickness decreased by a mean of 3.2 ± 3.0 % (p = 0.012) and 1.7 ± 1.6 % (p = 0.010), respectively. No significant changes in cartilage volume and thickness were observed at the medial and lateral tibia, the medial femur, and the patella.


Significant cartilage loss was observed at the lateral femur; however, the measured values are comparable to previously reported precision errors for quantitative cartilage measurement and thus most likely not of clinical relevance. High-impact forces during long-distance running are well tolerated even in marathon beginners and do not lead to clinical relevant cartilage loss.

Level of evidence



Marathon run Long-distance running Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging Osteoarthritis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Hinterwimmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthias J. Feucht
    • 3
    Email author
  • Corinna Steinbrech
    • 1
  • Heiko Graichen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Rüdiger von Eisenhart-Rothe
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research Group for Kinematics and BiomechanicsUniversity of FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Sportsclinic GermanyMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of Orthopedic Surgery and TraumatologyFreiburg University HospitalFreiburgGermany
  4. 4.Asklepios Orthopedic Hospital LindenloheSchwandorfGermany
  5. 5.Department of OrthopaedicsTechnical University MunichMunichGermany

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