Analysis of muscle activation patterns during transitions into and out of high knee flexion postures
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Increased risk of medial tibiofemoral osteoarthritis (OA) is linked to occupations that require frequent transitions into and out of postures which require high knee flexion (>90°). Muscle forces are major contributors to joint loading, and an association between compressive forces due to muscle activations and the degeneration of joint cartilage has been suggested. The purpose of this study was to evaluate muscle activation patterns of muscles crossing the knee during transitions into and out of full-flexion kneeling and squatting, sitting in a low chair, and gait. Both net and co-activation were greater when transitioning out of high flexion postures, with maximum activation occurring at knee angles greater than 100°. Compared to gait, co-activation levels during high flexion transitions were up to approximately 3 times greater. Co-activation was significantly greater in the lateral muscle group compared to the medial group during transitions into and out of high flexion postures. These results suggest that compression due to activation of the medial musculature of the knee may not be the link between high knee flexion postures and increased medial knee OA observed in occupational settings. Further research on a larger subject group and workers with varying degrees of knee OA is necessary.
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