Influence of aging on lower extremity sagittal plane variability during 5 essential subphases of stance in male recreational runners

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BACKGROUND: Interjoint coordination variability is a measure of the ability of the human system to regulate multiple movement strategies. Normal aging may reduce variability, resulting in a less adaptive system. Additionally, when older runners are asked to run at speeds greater than preferred, this added constraint may place older runners at greater risk for injury. OBJECTIVES: To examine the influence of normal aging on coordination variability across 5 distinct subphases of stance in runners during preferred and fixed speeds. METHODS: Twelve older (60 years of age or older) and 12 younger (30 years of age or younger) male recreational runners volunteered for this cross-sectional study. Three-dimensional gait analyses were collected at preferred and fixed speeds. Stance phase was divided into 5 subphases: (SP1) loading response, (SP2) peak braking, (SP3) peak compression, (SP4) midstance, and (SP5) peak propulsion. Continuous relative phase variability for sagittal plane joint pairs-hip-knee, knee-ankle, and hip-ankle-was calculated. Repeated-measures linear mixed models were employed to compare variability for each joint pair. RESULTS: An age-by-stance subphase interaction was found for knee-ankle (P<.01) and hip-ankle (P<.01) pairs, while main effects for age and stance subphase were found for the hip-knee pair (P<.05). Specifically, loading response and peak braking variability were lower in older runners and greater across stance for knee-ankle and hip-ankle pairs, while midstance was lowest in the hip-knee pair for older and younger runners. No effects for running pace were found. CONCLUSION: Less adaptive movement strategies seen in older runners may partially contribute to the increased eccentric stresses during periods of high load.

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Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy

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