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J Biomech. 2008;41(7):1520-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.02.016. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Active and passive contributions to joint kinetics during walking in older adults.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The objectives of this study were to characterize the active and passive contributions to joint kinetics during walking in healthy young and older adults, and assess whether isokinetic ankle strength is associated with ankle power output during walking. Twenty healthy young (18-35 years) and 20 healthy older (65-85 years) adults participated in this study. We measured subject-specific passive-elastic joint moment-angle relationships in the lower extremity and tested maximum isokinetic ankle strength at 30 deg/s. Passive moment-angle relationships were used to estimate active and passive joint moment, power, and work quantities during walking at 80%, 100% and 120% of preferred walking speed. There were no significant differences in walking speed, step length, or cadence between the older and young adults. However, the older adults produced significantly more net positive work at the hip but less net positive work at the ankle at all walking speeds. Passive contributions to hip and ankle work did not significantly differ between groups, inferring that the older adults generated the additional hip work actively. Maximum isokinetic ankle strength was significantly less in the older adults, and correlated with peak positive plantar-flexor power at both the preferred and fast walking speeds. The results of this study suggest that age-related shifts in joint kinetics do not arise as a result of increased passive hip joint stiffness, but seem to be reflected in plantar-flexor weakness.

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