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  • Author: Darryl G. Thelen x
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Amy Silder, Kyle Gleason and Darryl G. Thelen

We investigated how varying seat tube angle (STA) and hand position affect muscle kinematics and activation patterns during cycling in order to better understand how triathlon-specific bike geometries might mitigate the biomechanical challenges associated with the bike-to-run transition. Whole body motion and lower extremity muscle activities were recorded from 14 triathletes during a series of cycling and treadmill running trials. A total of nine cycling trials were conducted in three hand positions (aero, drops, hoods) and at three STAs (73°, 76°, 79°). Participants also ran on a treadmill at 80, 90, and 100% of their 10-km triathlon race pace. Compared with cycling, running necessitated significantly longer peak musculotendon lengths from the uniarticular hip flexors, knee extensors, ankle plantar flexors and the biarticular hamstrings, rectus femoris, and gastrocnemius muscles. Running also involved significantly longer periods of active muscle lengthening from the quadriceps and ankle plantar flexors. During cycling, increasing the STA alone had no affect on muscle kinematics but did induce significantly greater rectus femoris activity during the upstroke of the crank cycle. Increasing hip extension by varying the hand position induced an increase in hamstring muscle activity, and moved the operating lengths of the uniarticular hip flexor and extensor muscles slightly closer to those seen during running. These combined changes in muscle kinematics and coordination could potentially contribute to the improved running performances that have been previously observed immediately after cycling on a triathlon-specific bicycle.

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Laura C. Slane, Stijn Bogaerts, Darryl G. Thelen and Lennart Scheys

The purpose of this study was to evaluate localized patterns of patellar tendon deformation during passive knee flexion. Ultrasound radiofrequency data were collected from the patellar tendons of 20 healthy young adults during knee flexion over a range of motion of 50°–90° of flexion. A speckle tracking approach was used to compute proximal and distal tendon displacements and elongations. Nonuniform tissue displacements were visible in the proximal tendon (P < .001), with the deep tendon undergoing more distal displacement than the superficial tendon. In the distal tendon, more uniform tendon motion was observed. Spatial variations in percent elongation were also observed, but these varied along the length of the tendon (P < .002), with the proximal tendon remaining fairly isometric while the distal tendon underwent slight elongation. These results suggest that even during passive flexion the tendon undergoes complex patterns of deformation. Proximal tendon nonuniformity may arise from its complex anatomy where the deep tendon inserts onto the patella and the superficial tendon extends to the quadriceps tendon. Such heterogeneity is not captured in whole tendon average assessments, emphasizing the relevance of considering localized tendon mechanics, which may be key to understanding tendon behavior and precursors to injury and disease.

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Susana Meireles, Neil D. Reeves, Richard K. Jones, Colin R. Smith, Darryl G. Thelen and Ilse Jonkers

Medial knee loading during stair negotiation in individuals with medial knee osteoarthritis has only been reported in terms of joint moments, which may underestimate the knee loading. This study assessed knee contact forces (KCF) and contact pressures during different stair negotiation strategies. Motion analysis was performed in 5 individuals with medial knee osteoarthritis (52.8 [11.0] y) and 8 healthy subjects (51.0 [13.4] y) while ascending and descending a staircase. KCF and contact pressures were calculated using a multibody knee model while performing step-over-step at controlled and self-selected speed, and step-by-step strategies. At controlled speed, individuals with osteoarthritis showed decreased peak KCF during stair ascent but not during stair descent. Osteoarthritis patients showed higher trunk rotations in frontal and sagittal planes than controls. At lower self-selected speed, patients also presented reduced medial KCF during stair descent. While performing step-by-step, medial contact pressures decreased in osteoarthritis patients during stair descent. Osteoarthritis patients reduced their speed and increased trunk flexion and lean angles to reduce KCF during stair ascent. These trunk changes were less safe during stair descent where a reduced speed was more effective. Individuals should be recommended to use step-over-step during stair ascent and step-by-step during stair descent to reduce medial KCF.