Dr. Miller presenting his power point on running and knee load
February 7, 2020

Dr. Ross Miller started out the spring semester First Friday Seminar Series by sharing his research on biomechanics and osteoarthritis.  His research broadly examines how the way we move affects our health, with a particular focus on running and knee osteoarthritis.  He noted it's important to recognize osteoarthritis as a chronic disease and health issue since it can impair our ability to be physically active and perform activities of daily living, such as walking. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage cushion in the knee between the femur and the tibia has worn down, usually resulting in pain when load is placed on the joint.

Dr. Miller's research examines the paradox of why runners are not at an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis, considering that they have peak loads 5-10x greater during running than walking, and those who place a higher load on the knee while walking are at a clear increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.  In 2012, his research indicated that peak joint load is not the most important factor, but rather the average load accumulated over a distance running was rather similar to the cumulative load over a distance when walking.  His more recent research has shown that "cartilage conditioning" is a factor to consider when identifying who is at an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis.  In a study examining three groups, those who walked 3 km/day and ran 3 km/day with cartilage adaptation showed no greater risk for osteoarthritis compared to those who walked 6 km/day. However, almost everyone in the group that walked 3 km/day and ran 3 km/day without cartilage adaptation developed osteoarthritis.

Additionally, Dr. Miller has specifically examined limb-loss populations in his research, most recently examining one-legged hopping and the increased load this places on the knee.  He explained that it is common for amputees to hop to do a short task rather than take the time to put on their prosthetic.  Among study participants, they were hopping more than 200x per day, increasing their risk of developing osteoarthritis. He noted this could inform public health recommendations to encourage lower limb amputees to consistently use their prosthetic and not rely on hopping.

Join us for our next First Friday Seminar on March 6th featuring Dr. Jennifer Roberts!

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Ross Miller