A Yoga Strengthening Program Designed to Minimize the Knee Adduction Moment for Women with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Proof-Of-Principle Cohort Study
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UNLABELLED: People with knee osteoarthritis may benefit from exercise prescriptions that minimize knee loads in the frontal plane. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether a novel 12-week strengthening program designed to minimize exposure to the knee adduction moment (KAM) could improve symptoms and knee strength in women with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. A secondary objective was to determine whether the program could improve mobility and fitness, and decrease peak KAM during gait. The tertiary objective was to evaluate the biomechanical characteristics of this yoga program. In particular, we compared the peak KAM during gait with that during yoga postures at baseline. We also compared lower limb normalized mean electromyography (EMG) amplitudes during yoga postures between baseline and follow-up. Primary measures included self-reported pain and physical function (Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score) and knee strength (extensor and flexor torques). Secondary measures included mobility (six-minute walk, 30-second chair stand, stair climbing), fitness (submaximal cycle ergometer test), and clinical gait analysis using motion capture synchronized with electromyography and force measurement. Also, KAM and normalized mean EMG amplitudes were collected during yoga postures. Forty-five women over age 50 with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, consistent with the American College of Rheumatology criteria, enrolled in our 12-week (3 sessions per week) program. Data from 38 were analyzed (six drop-outs; one lost to co-intervention). Participants experienced reduced pain (mean improvement 10.1–20.1 normalized to 100; p<0.001), increased knee extensor strength (mean improvement 0.01 Nm/kg; p = 0.004), and increased flexor strength (mean improvement 0.01 Nm/kg; p = 0.001) at follow-up compared to baseline. Participants improved mobility on the six-minute walk (mean improvement 37.7 m; p<0.001) and 30-second chair stand (mean improvement 1.3; p = 0.006) at follow-up compared to baseline. Fitness and peak KAM during gait were unchanged between baseline and follow-up. Average KAM during the yoga postures were lower than that of normal gait. Normalized mean EMG amplitudes during yoga postures were up to 31.0% of maximum but did not change between baseline and follow-up. In this cohort study, the yoga-based strengthening postures that elicit low KAMs improved knee symptoms and strength in women with knee OA following a 12 week program (3 sessions per week). The program also improved mobility, but did not improve fitness or reduce peak KAM during gait. The KAM during the yoga postures were lower than that of normal gait. Overall, the proposed program may be useful in improving pain, strength, and mobility in women with knee osteoarthritis. Clinical efficacy needs to be assessed using a randomized controlled trial design. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02146105.
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