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Seong-won Han, Andrew Sawatsky, Azim Jinha, and Walter Herzog

Vastus medialis (VM) weakness is thought to alter patellar tracking, thereby changing the loading of the patellofemoral joint (PFJ), resulting in patellofemoral pain. However, it is challenging to measure VM force and weakness in human studies, nor is it possible to measure the associated mechanical changes in the PFJ. To obtain fundamental insight into VM weakness and its effects on PFJ mechanics, the authors determined PFJ loading in the presence of experimentally simulated VM weakness. Skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were used (n = 6), and the vastus lateralis, VM, and rectus femoris were stimulated individually through 3 custom-built nerve cuff electrodes. Muscle torque and PFJ pressure distribution were measured while activating all muscles simultaneously, or when the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris were activated, while VM was not, to simulate a quadriceps muscle strength imbalance. For a given muscular joint torque, peak pressures were greater and joint contact areas were smaller when simulating VM weakness compared with the condition where all muscles were activated simultaneously. The results in the rabbit model support that VM weakness results in altered PFJ loading, which may cause patellofemoral pain, often associated with a strength imbalance of the knee extensor muscle group.

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Bruno Manfredini Baroni, Jeam Marcel Geremia, Rodrigo Rodrigues, Marcelo Krás Borges, Azim Jinha, Walter Herzog, and Marco Aurélio Vaz

It is not known if a physically active lifestyle, without systematic training, is sufficient to combat age-related muscle and strength loss. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate if the maintenance of a physically active lifestyle prevents muscle impairments due to aging. To address this issue, we evaluated 33 healthy men with similar physical activity levels (IPAQ = 2) across a large range of ages. Functional (torque-angle and torque-velocity relations) and morphological (vastus lateralis muscle architecture) properties of the knee extensor muscles were assessed and compared between three age groups: young adults (30 ± 6 y), middle-aged subjects (50 ± 7 y) and elderly subjects (69 ± 5 y). Isometric peak torques were significantly lower (30% to 36%) in elderly group subjects compared with the young adults. Concentric peak torques were significantly lower in the middle aged (18% to 32%) and elderly group (40% to 53%) compared with the young adults. Vastus lateralis thickness and fascicles lengths were significantly smaller in the elderly group subjects (15.8 ± 3.9 mm; 99.1 ± 25.8 mm) compared with the young adults (19.8 ± 3.6 mm; 152.1 ± 42.0 mm). These findings suggest that a physically active lifestyle, without systematic training, is not sufficient to avoid loss of strength and muscle mass with aging.