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Max R. Paquette, Audrey Zucker-Levin, Paul DeVita, Joseph Hoekstra, and David Pearsall

The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity joint angular position and muscle activity during elliptical exercise using different foot positions and also during exercise on a lateral elliptical trainer. Sixteen men exercised on a lateral elliptical and on a standard elliptical trainer using straight foot position, increased toe-out angle, and a wide step. Motion capture and electromyography systems were used to obtain 3D lower extremity joint kinematics and muscle activity, respectively. The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane knee range of motion (ROM), greater peak knee flexion and extension, and higher vastus medialis activation compared with other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out and wide step produced the greatest and smallest peak knee adduction angles, respectively (P < .05). The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane hip ROM and greater peak hip extension and flexion compared with all other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out angle produced the largest peak hip external rotation angle and lowest gluteus muscle activation (P < .05). Findings from this study indicate that standard elliptical exercise with wide step may place the knee joint in a desirable frontal plane angular position to reduce medial knee loads, and that lateral elliptical exercise could help improve quadriceps strength but could also lead to larger knee contact forces.

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Stephanie Chester, Audrey Zucker-Levin, Daniel A. Melcher, Shelby A. Peel, Richard J. Bloomer, and Max R. Paquette

The purpose of this study was to compare knee and hip joint kinematics previously associated with anterior knee pain and metabolic cost among conditions including treadmill running (TR), standard elliptical (SE), and lateral elliptical (LE) in healthy runners. Joint kinematics and metabolic parameters of 16 runners were collected during all 3 modalities using motion capture and a metabolic system, respectively. Sagittal knee range of motion (ROM) was greater in LE (P < .001) and SE (P < .001) compared with TR. Frontal and transverse plane hip ROM were greater in LE compared with SE (P < .001) and TR (P < .001). Contralateral pelvic drop ROM was smaller in SE compared with TR (P = .002) and LE (P = .005). Similar oxygen consumption was found during LE and TR (P = .39), but LE (P < .001) and TR (P < .001) required greater oxygen consumption than SE. Although LE yields similar metabolic cost to TR and produces hip kinematics that may help strengthen hip abductors, greater knee flexion and abduction during LE may increase symptoms in runners with anterior knee pain. The findings suggest that research on the implications of elliptical exercise for injured runners is needed.