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Giuliamarta Bottoni, Dieter Heinrich, Philipp Kofler, Michael Hasler and Werner Nachbauer

Context:

During sport activity, knee proprioception might worsen. This decrease in proprioceptive acuity negatively influences motor control and therefore may increase injury risk. Hiking is a common activity characterized by a higher-intensity-exercise phase during uphill walking and a lower-intensity-exercise phase during downhill walking. Pain and injuries are reported in hiking, especially during the downhill phase.

Objective:

To examine the effect of a hiking-fatigue protocol on joint-position sense.

Design:

Repeated measures.

Setting:

University research laboratory.

Participants:

24 nonprofessional sportswomen without knee injuries.

Main Outcome Measures:

Joint-position sense was tested at the beginning, after 30 min uphill walking, and after 30 min downhill walking on a treadmill (continuous protocol).

Results:

After downhill walking, joint-position sense was significantly worse than in the test at the beginning (P = .035, α = .05). After uphill walking, no differences were observed in comparison with the test at the beginning (P = .172, α = .05) or the test after downhill walking (P = .165, α = .05).

Conclusion:

Downhill walking causes impairment in knee-joint-position sense. Considering these results, injury-prevention protocols for hiking should focus on maintaining and improving knee proprioception during the descending phase.

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Giuliamarta Bottoni, Philipp Kofler, Anne Theresa Herten, Michael Hasler, Anton Giger and Werner Nachbauer

Knee braces might enhance balance ability by improving joint stabilization or proprioception. We tested the effects of three different knee braces on single-limb balance. There was a significant decrease in the anteroposterior balance ability when participants wore the brace that was described as the most cumbersome or uncomfortable (p = .04). For the other two braces, there was no difference in single-limb balance ability compared with the no brace condition. Comfort and weight of the knee brace might alter somatosensory inputs, which play an important role in balance ability.