Effects of Wide Step Width on Stair Ascent Knee Kinetics in Obese Participants

Purpose: An increased likelihood of developing obesity-related knee osteoarthritis may be associated with increased peak internal knee abduction moments. Increases in step width may act to reduce this moment. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of increased step width on knee biomechanics during stair ascent of healthy-weight and obese participants. Methods: Participants ascended stairs while walking at their preferred speed in two different step width conditions – preferred and wide. A 2 x 2 (group x condition) mixed model analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to analyze differences between groups and conditions (p<0.05). Results: Increased step width decreased the loading-response peak vertical ground reaction force (GRF), loading-response knee abduction moment, knee extension ROM, and knee abduction ROM in both groups. However, it also increased loading and push-off peak mediolateral GRF, and peak knee abduction angle in both groups. Obese participants experienced a disproportionate increase in loading and push-off peak mediolateral GRF, and peak knee abduction angle compared to healthy. Conclusion: Increased SW successfully decreased loading-response peak knee abduction moment. Implications of this finding are that increased SW may decrease likelihood of developing medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. This study shows that this gait modification affects obese and healthy-weight differently, and the influence of body mass on knee biomechanics.

Listed In: Biomechanics