Study design: Cross-sectional experimental laboratory study.
Objectives: To investigate the relationships between hip strength and hip kinematics, and between arch structure and knee kinematics during prolonged treadmill running in runners with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
Background: Hip weakness can lead to excessive femoral motions that adversely affect patellofemoral joint mechanics. Similarly, foot mechanics, which are influenced by foot structure, are also known to influence patellofemoral joint mechanics. Thus, proximal and distal factors should be considered when studying individuals with PFPS.
Methods and measures: Twenty recreational runners with PFPS (5 male, 15 female) and 20 matched uninjured runners participated in the study. Hip abduction and hip external rotation isometric strength measurements were collected before and after a prolonged run, while the arch height index was recorded on all runners before the run. Lower extremity kinematic data were collected at the beginning and end of the run. Two-way repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used for analysis.
Results: Both groups displayed decreases in hip abductor and external rotator strengths at the end of the run. The PFPS group displayed significantly lower hip abduction strength [(kg x cm)/body mass] compared to controls (PFPS group: begin 15.3, end 13.5; uninjured group: begin 17.3, end 15.4). At the end of the run, the level of association between hip abduction strength and the peak hip adduction angle for the PFPS group was statistically significant, indicating a strong relationship (r = -0.74). No other associations with hip strength were observed in either group. Arch height did not differ between groups and no significant association was observed between arch height and peak knee adduction angle during running.
Conclusions: Runners with PFPS displayed weaker hip abductor muscles that were associated with an increase in hip adduction during running. This relationship became more pronounced at the end of the run.
Level of evidence: Therapy, level 5.