Contralateral v ipsilateral cane use. Effects on muscles crossing the knee joint

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1992 Jun;71(3):170-6.


Although using a cane contralaterally has been shown to reduce muscular activity across the hip joint, little is known about effects on the knee. We measured muscular activity around the knee in 10 able-bodied subjects. We simultaneously recorded integrated rectified surface electromyographic activity from the right quadriceps, medial and lateral hamstrings, gastrocnemius and hip abductors during various standing maneuvers: two-legged stance, unsupported one-legged stance and one-legged stance putting maximal, moderate (20% body weight) or minimal (10% body weight) force through an ipsilateral or contralateral cane. Electromyographic activity was expressed as the percentage of that recorded during unsupported one-legged stance in each muscle. Hip abductor activity was lowest when maximal weight was placed through a contralateral cane (66%) and highest with maximal weight ipsilaterally (424%). Medial hamstrings activity increased by 404% and 200%, respectively, when maximal and moderate force was applied to a contralateral cane, although there was no change with ipsilateral cane. Lateral hamstrings were also most active during contralateral cane use. Quadriceps activity decreased using a cane in either hand with moderate or minimal force (range 57 to 84%). Gastrocnemius activity decreased during contralateral (60 to 66%) and ipsilateral (75 to 96%) cane use. This data suggests that forces generated by muscular activity around the knee are not uniformly diminished by holding a cane in the contralateral hand and may even be increased.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Canes*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint*
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology*