Medial knee joint loading during stair ambulation and walking while carrying loads
Carrying loads while walking or using stairs is a common activity of daily living. Knee osteoarthritis is associated with increased external knee adduction moment (KAM) during walking, so understanding how the additional challenges of stairs and carrying loads impact these moments is of value. Sixteen healthy individuals performed three types of MOTION (walking, stair ascent, stair descent) under three LOAD conditions (no load, carrying a 13.6 kg front load, carrying 13.6 kg load in a backpack). Three-dimensional gait analysis was used to measure KAM. Results of ANOVA showed a significant main effect of both MOTION and LOAD on peak KAM (p < 0.001), but no significant MOTION × LOAD interaction (p = 0.250). Peak KAM during stair ascent was about two-times those seen in stair descent (p < 0.001) and was significantly higher than those seen in walking (p < 0.001). Conditions with LOAD generated significantly greater KAM as compared to the no-LOAD conditions (p < 0.001). These findings suggest that carrying a load of moderate magnitude while climbing stairs significantly increases the peak KAM – a risk factor associated with knee osteoarthritis.