High and Low Intensity Weight Training May Reduce Pain From Knee Osteoarthritis

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Stephen P. Messier, PhD
.B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory
Department of Health and Exercise Science
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Stephen P. Messier, PhD .B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory Department of Health and Exercise Science Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dr. Messier

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Thigh muscle weakness is associated with knee discomfort and osteoarthritis disease progression. Little is known about the efficacy of high-intensity strength training in patients with knee osteoarthritis and whether it may worsen symptoms.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Both high and low intensity strength training significantly improve strength compared to an attention control group and do not worsen osteoarthritis symptoms or disease progression. 

High-intensity strength training is not more effective than low intensity strength training in reducing pain or knee joint loading.

A healthy living education program (our attention control group) can be just as effective at reducing pain as strength training.

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Weight loss is a known benefit for people with knee osteoarthritis, however, much of the weight loss is muscle mass. Adding strength training to weight loss may reduce the amount of muscle mass loss.

PainRelief.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Without any intervention adults lose strength with aging. Strength training would be excellent to include in an exercise routine to prevent loss of strength with aging.


Messier SP, Mihalko SL, Beavers DP, et al. Effect of High-Intensity Strength Training on Knee Pain and Knee Joint Compressive Forces Among Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis: The START Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2021;325(7):646–657. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0411

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