The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity joint angular position and muscle activity during elliptical exercise using different foot positions and also during exercise on a lateral elliptical trainer. Sixteen men exercised on a lateral elliptical and on a standard elliptical trainer using straight foot position, increased toe-out angle, and a wide step. Motion capture and electromyography systems were used to obtain 3D lower extremity joint kinematics and muscle activity, respectively. The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane knee range of motion (ROM), greater peak knee flexion and extension, and higher vastus medialis activation compared with other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out and wide step produced the greatest and smallest peak knee adduction angles, respectively (P < .05). The lateral trainer produced greater sagittal and frontal plane hip ROM and greater peak hip extension and flexion compared with all other conditions (P < .05). Toe-out angle produced the largest peak hip external rotation angle and lowest gluteus muscle activation (P < .05). Findings from this study indicate that standard elliptical exercise with wide step may place the knee joint in a desirable frontal plane angular position to reduce medial knee loads, and that lateral elliptical exercise could help improve quadriceps strength but could also lead to larger knee contact forces.
Max R. Paquette and Joseph Hoekstra are with the University of Memphis, Health & Sport Sciences, Memphis, TN. Audrey Zucker-Levin is with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Physical Therapy, Memphis, TN. Paul DeVita is with East Carolina University, Kinesiology, Greenville, NC. David Pearsall is with McGill University, Kinesiology & Physical Education, Montréal, QC, Canada.