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Jocelyn F. Hafer and Katherine A. Boyer

The link between age-related changes in muscle strength and gait is unclear. We tested if knee extensor functional demand differs by age and physical activity status and if functional demand increases with walking speed or after exercise. Gait and knee extensor muscle torque were collected from young adults and highly and less active older adults before and after treadmill walking. Functional demand was the ratio of knee moments during gait to knee extensor muscle torques estimated from participant-specific torque–velocity curves. Functional demand at the peak knee flexion moment was greater in less active older adults than young adults (29.3% [14.3%] vs 24.6% [12.1%]) and increased with walking speed (32.0% [13.9%] vs 22.8% [10.4%]). Functional demand at both knee extension moments increased ∼2% to 3% after exercise. The low functional demand found in this study suggests that healthy adults maintain a reserve of knee extensor strength.

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Nathaniel A. Bates, Nathan D. Schilaty, Ryo Ueno and Timothy E. Hewett

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury videos estimate that rupture occurs within 50 milliseconds of initial contact, but are limited by imprecise timing and nondirect data acquisition. The objective of this study was to precisely quantify the timing associated with ligament strain during simulated landing and injury events. The hypotheses tested were that the timing of peak strain following initial contact would differ between ligaments and that peak strain timing would be independent of the injury-risk profile emulated during simulated landing. A mechanical impact simulator was used to perform landing simulations based on various injury-risk profiles that were applied to each specimen in a block-randomized order. The ACL and medial collateral ligament were instrumented with strain gauges that recorded continuously. The data from 35 lower-extremity specimens were included for analysis. Analysis of variance and Kruskal–Wallis tests were used to determine the differences between timing and profiles. The mean time to peak strain was 53 (24) milliseconds for the ACL and 58 (35) milliseconds for the medial collateral ligament. The time to peak ACL strain ranged from 48 to 61 milliseconds, but the timing differences were not significant between profiles. Strain timing was independent of injury-risk profile. Noncontact ACL injuries are expected to occur between 0 and 61 milliseconds after initial contact. Both ligaments reached peak strain within the same time frame.

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Rebecca L. Krupenevich and Ross H. Miller

The causes of age-related differences in lower-extremity joint moments and powers are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of highly physically active older adults walking with (1) a step length similar to young adults and (2) an upright trunk posture, on hip and ankle joint kinetics. The authors hypothesized that, compared with their self-selected walking mechanics, older adults would exhibit decreased hip kinetics and increased ankle kinetics when prescribed a young adult step length, and would exhibit decreased hip extension moments when maintaining an upright trunk posture during walking. A total of 12 active older adults (67 [5] y) and 13 active young adults (21 [3] y) walked at 1.3 m/s. The older adults also walked at 1.3 m/s with step lengths prescribed from height-matched young adults and, in a separate condition, walked with an upright trunk. The older adults did not display larger ankle kinetics or smaller hip kinetics in either condition compared to walking with a self-selected step length. These findings indicate that step length and trunk position do not primarily contribute to age-related differences in kinetics in highly active older adults and should serve as a starting point for investigating alternative explanations.

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Walter Herzog

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James A. Ashton-Miller and Ronald F. Zernicke

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Tobias Lundgren, Gustaf Reinebo, Markus Näslund and Thomas Parling

Despite the growing popularity of mindfulness and acceptance-based performance enhancement methods in applied sport psychology, evidence for their efficacy is scarce. The purpose of the current study is to test the feasibility and effect of a psychological training program based on Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) developed for ice hockey players. A controlled group feasibility designed study was conducted and included 21 elite male ice hockey players. The ACT program consisted of four, once a week, sessions with homework assignments between sessions. The results showed significant increase in psychological flexibility for the players in the training group. The outcome was positive for all feasibility measures. Participants found the psychological training program important to them as ice hockey players and helpful in their ice hockey development. Desirably, future studies should include objective performance data as outcome measure to foster more valid evidence for performance enhancement methods in applied sport psychology.

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Yuko Kuramatsu, Yuji Yamamoto and Shin-Ichi Izumi

This study investigated the sensorimotor strategies for dynamic balance control in individuals with stroke by restricting sensory input that might influence task accomplishment. Sit-to-stand movements were performed with restricted vision by participants with hemiparesis and healthy controls. The authors evaluated the variability in the position of participants’ center of mass and velocity, and the center-of-pressure position, in each orthogonal direction at the lift-off point. When vision was restricted, the variability in the mediolateral center-of-pressure position decreased significantly in individuals with hemiparesis, but not in healthy controls. Participants with hemiparesis adopted strategies that explicitly differed from those used by healthy individuals. Variability may be decreased in the direction that most requires accuracy. Individuals with hemiparesis have been reported to have asymmetrical balance deficits, and that meant they had to prioritize mediolateral motion control to prevent falling. This study suggests that individuals with hemiparesis adopt strategies appropriate to their characteristics.

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Joseph Hamill

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Mhairi K. MacLean and Daniel P. Ferris

The authors tested 4 young healthy subjects walking with a powered knee exoskeleton to determine if it could reduce the metabolic cost of locomotion. Subjects walked with a backpack loaded and unloaded, on a treadmill with inclinations of 0° and 15°, and outdoors with varied natural terrain. Participants walked at a self-selected speed (average 1.0 m/s) for all conditions, except incline treadmill walking (average 0.5 m/s). The authors hypothesized that the knee exoskeleton would reduce the metabolic cost of walking uphill and with a load compared with walking without the exoskeleton. The knee exoskeleton reduced metabolic cost by 4.2% in the 15° incline with the backpack load. All other conditions had an increase in metabolic cost when using the knee exoskeleton compared with not using the exoskeleton. There was more variation in metabolic cost over the outdoor walking course with the knee exoskeleton than without it. Our findings indicate that powered assistance at the knee is more likely to decrease the metabolic cost of walking in uphill conditions and during loaded walking rather than in level conditions without a backpack load. Differences in positive mechanical work demand at the knee for varying conditions may explain the differences in metabolic benefit from the exoskeleton.