Muscle Speed Affects Arthritis Prevention as Much as Strength, Study Finds


Studies have found that strengthening the quadriceps – or thigh muscles – may help prevent knee osteoarthritis. But a new study has found that how fast the quadricep muscle is able to generate force – for example pushing the leg out – may impact knee osteoarthritis too.

More than a third of West Virginian adults report experiencing arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study’s authors followed 3,996 participants for 12 months, 3,820 for 24 months and 3,623 for 36 months. They measured quadricep speed and force by using a special chair with a cable that recorded muscle strength when pushing the leg out. They also tested how well participants walked for 20 and 400 meters and how well the participant was able to stand from after being seated in a chair. Finally, participants completed self-assessments of how well they were able to do daily activities like bathing, getting in a car and getting dressed.  

The study’s authors found that people with slower muscle responses are more likely to suffer from worse physical function in the future.

“We know that maintaining quadriceps strength is important for protection against painful knee OA,” said Neil Segal, one of the study’s authors. “Now, we know the ability to move the muscle quickly is important for keeping people able to walk, stand from a chair and do other functional activities.”

Appalachia Helth News

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.