The biomechanical functional demand placed on knee and hip muscles of older adults during stair ascent and descent

Dinesh Samuel, Philip Rowe, Victoria Hood, Alexander Nicol

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    Age-related decline in physical capabilities may lead to older adults experiencing difficulty in performing everyday activities due to high demands placed on the muscles of their lower extremity. This study aimed to determine the biomechanical functional demand in terms of joint moments and maximal muscle capabilities at the knee and hip joints while older adults performed stair ascent (SA) and stair descent (SD). Eighty-four healthy older adults aged 60-88 years were tested. A torque dynamometer attached to a purpose-built plinth was utilized to measure muscle moments at the knee and hip joints. Participants also underwent full body 3-D biomechanical assessment of stair ascent and descent using an 8-camera VICON system (120Hz) with 3 Kistler force plates. Stair negotiation required knee extensor moments in excess of the maximum isometric muscle strength available (SA 103%, SD 120%). For the hip, the levels of demand were high, but were slightly lower than those of the knee joint. Stair negotiation placed a high level of demand on the knee extensors with demand in SA reaching maximal isometric capacity and demand in SD exceeding maximal isometric capacity. The levels of demand leave little reserve capacity for the older adult to draw on in unexpected situations or circumstances.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-244
    Number of pages6
    JournalGait and Posture
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • aged
    • biomechanics
    • hip joint
    • knee joint
    • lower extremity
    • middle aged
    • movement
    • muscle strength
    • muscle, skeletal
    • Walking

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