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.
Jocelyn F. Hafer and Katherine A. Boyer
Jocelyn F. Hafer, Mark S. Miller, Jane A. Kent and Katherine A. Boyer
Older females experience higher rates of disability than males, potentially due to sex-specific differences in gait and muscle function. The authors evaluated the effects of age and physical activity (PA) on gait mechanics and knee extensor muscle function in males and females. Three groups of 20 individuals (each 10 females) participated: young (21–35 y) and highly and less active older (55–70 y) adults. Knee extensor strength and joint mechanics during preferred speed gait were collected before and after 30 minutes of walking. Age by sex and PA by sex interactions indicated older and less active older females had lower concentric knee extensor muscle power and larger hip extension moments than males. After 30 minutes of walking, older less active adults had larger decreases in knee extensor power than their highly active older counterparts, and older adults of both sexes had decreases in ankle dorsiflexion moments while young adults did not. These results suggest that older, particularly less active, adults are susceptible to knee extensor muscle fatigue from moderate activity. For older adults, high levels of PA may be necessary to preserve gait mechanics in response to a bout of exercise. This new information may be important for targeting interventions in at-risk older adults.
Sarah P. Shultz, Jinsup Song, Andrew P. Kraszewski, Jocelyn F. Hafer, Smita Rao, Sherry Backus, Rajshree M. Hillstrom and Howard J. Hillstrom
It has been suggested that foot type considers not only foot structure (high, normal, low arch), but also function (overpronation, normal, oversupination) and flexibility (reduced, normal, excessive). Therefore, this study used canonical regression analyses to assess which variables of foot structure, function, and flexibility can accurately discriminate between clinical foot type classifications. The feet of 61 asymptomatic, healthy adults (18–77 years) were classified as cavus (N = 24), rectus (N = 54), or planus (N = 44) using standard clinical measures. Custom jigs assessed foot structure and flexibility. Foot function was assessed using an emed-x plantar pressure measuring device. Canonical regression analyses were applied separately to extract essential structure, flexibility, and function variables. A third canonical regression analysis was performed on the extracted variables to identify a combined model. The initial combined model included 30 extracted variables; however 5 terminal variables (malleolar valgus index, arch height index while sitting, first metatarsophalangeal joint laxity while standing, pressure-time integral and maximum contact area of medial arch) were able to correctly predict 80.7% of foot types. These remaining variables focused on specific foot characteristics (hindfoot alignment, arch height, midfoot mechanics, Windlass mechanism) that could be essential to discriminating foot type.