The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether individuals with patellofemoral pain (PFP) display a reduction in intralimb joint coordination variability compared to nonimpaired persons. In addition, it was hypothesized that the variability of the stride characteristics would be similar between groups. Eight individuals with unilateral PFP and 8 nonimpaired participants ran on a treadmill at a fixed (2.68 m·s–1) and preferred speed while stride characteristics and 3-D kinematics of the bilateral lower extremities were recorded. Intralimb coordination variability was measured using a vector coding technique applied to relative motion plots of various joint couplings. The PFP group displayed greater stride length variability during running at the preferred speed. However, this was not the case during running at the fixed speed. When averaging across the entire stride cycle, coordination variability for all joint couplings was consistent between the two groups. However, further analysis about heel-strike revealed reduced joint coordination variability for the thigh rotation/leg rotation coupling of the PFP group’s injured limb compared to that of the nonimpaired group. With the exception of the transverse plane rotations at heel-strike, it would appear that the level of pain experienced by the PFP participants may not be great enough to produce a change in the intralimb coordination patterns during running.
Bryan Heiderscheit is with the Program in Physical Therapy, Des Moines University—Osteopathic Medical Ctr, 3200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312; Joseph Hamill and Richard van Emmerik are with the Dept. of Exercise Science, UMass, Amherst, MA 01003.
No financial interest was involved in this research.