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Tibiofemoral Joint Forces in Female Recreational Runners Vary with Step Frequency

Thakkar, Bhushan1; Willson, John D.2; Harrison, Kathryn1; Tickes, Robert3; Williams, D. S. Blaise III4

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 4, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001915
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Purpose Elevated tibiofemoral joint (TFJ) contact forces have been linked to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. The primary objective of this study was to determine the association between peak TFJ shear and compression forces during running at different self-selected step frequencies (SF) in female recreational runners.

Methods Fifty-five healthy female recreational runners ran at 2.98 m/s on an instrumented treadmill. Peak TFJ anterior shear force, peak axial TFJ compression force and peak medial compartment TFJ compression force were estimated using a musculoskeletal model with inputs from 3D joint kinematics and inverse dynamics calculations. Three SF groups were generated using tertiles and differences between the groups were compared using one-way analyses of variance (α=0.05).

Results Runners with a SF of ≥178 steps per minute demonstrated the lowest peak TFJ anterior shear (p=0.049), peak axial TFJ compression force (p=0.001) and peak TFJ medial compartment compression forces (p=0.001) compared with runners using lower SF.

Conclusion Female recreational runners with low SF of ≤166 steps per minute experience greater TFJ contact forces. This study provides evidence of an association between SF and both shear and axial peak TFJ contact forces during running.

1Department of Physical Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

2Department of Physical Therapy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

3School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

4Nike Sport Research Lab, Beaverton, OR

Corresponding author: Bhushan Thakkar, 1200 East Broad Street, Basement, Box 980224, Richmond, VA 23298. E-mail: thakkarbs2@vcu.edu. Phone: (804) 300-5578. Fax: (804) 828-8111

There was no funding received for this project.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interests to disclose.

The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by ACSM.

The results of the study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation.

Accepted for publication: 2 January 2019.

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine