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Knee. 2014 Aug;21(4):821-6. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2014.03.006. Epub 2014 Apr 3.

Effects of increased step width on frontal plane knee biomechanics in healthy older adults during stair descent.

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Department of Health & Sport Science, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.



Peak internal knee abduction moment is a common surrogate variable associated with medial compartment knee loading. Stair descent has been shown to yield a greater peak knee abduction moment compared to level-walking. Changes in step width (SW) may lead to changes in frontal plane lower extremity limb alignment in the frontal plane and alter peak knee abduction moment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of increased SW on frontal plane knee biomechanics during stair descent in healthy older adults.


Twenty healthy adults were recruited for the study. A motion analysis system was used to obtain three-dimensional lower limb kinematics during testing. An instrumented 3-step staircase with two additional customized wooden steps was used to collect ground reaction forces (GRF) data during stair descent trials. Participants performed five stair descent trials at their self-selected speed using preferred, wide (26% leg length), and wider (39% leg length) SW.


The preferred normalized SW in older adults during stair descent was 20% of leg length. Wide and wider SW during stair descent reduced both first and second peak knee adduction angles and abduction moments compared to preferred SW in healthy adults.


Increased SW reduced peak knee adduction angles and abduction moments. The reductions in knee abduction moments may have implications in reducing medial compartment knee loads during stair descent.


Abduction moment; Force; Knee; Stair descent; Step width

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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