Influence of step length and landing pattern on patellofemoral joint kinetics during running

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Abstract

Elevated patellofemoral joint kinetics during running may contribute to patellofemoral joint symptoms. The purpose of this study was to test for independent effects of foot strike pattern and step length on patellofemoral joint kinetics while running. Effects were tested relative to individual steps and also taking into account the number of steps required to run a kilometer with each step length. Patellofemoral joint reaction force and stress were estimated in 20 participants running at their preferred speed. Participants ran using a forefoot strike and rearfoot strike pattern during three different step length conditions: preferred step length, long (+10%) step length, and short (−10%) step length. Patellofemoral kinetics was estimated using a biomechanical model of the patellofemoral joint that accounted for cocontraction of the knee flexors and extensors. We observed independent effects of foot strike pattern and step length. Patellofemoral joint kinetics per step was 10–13% less during forefoot strike conditions and 15–20% less with a shortened step length. Patellofemoral joint kinetics per kilometer decreased 12–13% using a forefoot strike pattern and 9–12% with a shortened step length. To the extent that patellofemoral joint kinetics contribute to symptoms among runners, these running modifications may be advisable for runners with patellofemoral pain.

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