Effects of Toe-In and Wider Step Width in Stair Ascent with Different Knee Alignments

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Abstract

Purpose

Toe-in (TI) and toe-in with wider step width (TIW) gait modifications have successfully reduced the internal peak knee adduction moment (KAM) during level walking and stair ascent tasks, respectively, for healthy and knee osteoarthritis populations. However, the concurrent effects of these modifications have not previously been combined to reduce both the first and the second peak KAM during stair ascent or tested among the different knee alignment groups. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine effects of TI and TIW gait modifications on knee biomechanics during stair ascent in individuals with varus, neutral, and valgus knee alignments.

Methods

Thirty-eight healthy individuals (age 18–30 yr) with varus, neutral, and valgus knee alignments confirmed using radiographs, performed stair ascent in normal, TI, and TIW gait conditions. A 3 × 3 (group × condition) mixed model repeated-measures ANOVA compared alignment groups across the stair ascent gait conditions (P < 0.05).

Results

The TI and the TIW reduced the first peak KAM and KAM impulses compared with normal stair ascent. The TIW also reduced the second peak KAM compared with normal gait and reduced KAM impulses compared with TI. The varus group had increased first peak KAM compared with neutral and valgus groups. The TI and the TIW also reduced peak knee flexion moments compared with normal gait. The TIW also reduced peak external rotation moments compared with normal gait.

Conclusions

The TIW gait modification seems to be successful in reducing knee joint loading in all three planes during stair ascent, regardless of knee alignment. The success of TIW in varus knee alignments may have important implications for people with medial knee osteoarthritis, or those susceptible to knee osteoarthritis.

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