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Incline Walking: A Way to Decrease Knee stress in Arthritis

September 05, 2014

Incline Walking: A Way to Decrease Knee stress in Arthritis

 

In a 2014 study by Henry Wang, PhD, at Ball State University, decreased knee stresses were found when walking up an incline.

 

Incline walking is associated with other benefits including higher metabolic rate, increased caloric consumption and fat burning, when compared with level walking.  Incline walking also places more demand on muscle activity of the thigh (quadriceps and hamstring) and calf muscles.  These combine to increase the cardiovascular benefits associated with exercise.

 

In Wang’s study, 15 healthy male volunteers were tested with walking bouts on a treadmill, ranging from 5% to 20% incline grades.  All gradient levels showed diminished knee stresses, but these reached statistically significant levels at or above a 10% grade level.  The knee stresses were decreased preventing medial (inside) of the knee pressures from increasing. Medial knee compression is a common precursor to knee arthritis often leading up to total knee replacement.

 

This study furthers previous knowledge that inclined walking required greater quadriceps activity to overcome the elevated slope.  Using the treadmill at an incline also increases use of the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calf muscles of the legs.  Incline walking can strengthen the leg muscles without introducing increased load to the knee joint.  Thus, patients can improve strength and cardiovascular health with incline treadmill walking without increasing the stresses and associated damage on their knees. 

 

Along with this information, the physical therapists at Lifestrength Physical Therapy, Inc., can perform an in depth visual gait analysis, identifying weakness patterns and strength imbalances, and test proprioceptive and balance deficits that may contribute to an increased risk of injury, pain, or arthritic progression.  Our goals are to get you moving and functioning well, and to empower you to keep yourself functioning well throughout life.

 

 

Wang’s article can be seen at Lower Extremity Review Magazine.  Read More Here

 

 

 

 

 

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