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The association between antagonist hamstring coactivation and episodes of knee joint shifting and buckling



Hamstring coactivation during quadriceps activation is necessary to counteract the quadriceps pull on the tibia, but coactivation can be elevated with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA). To guide rehabilitation to attenuate risk for mobility limitations and falls, this study evaluated whether higher antagonistic open kinetic chain hamstring coactivation is associated with knee joint buckling (sudden loss of support) and shifting (a sensation that the knee might give way).


At baseline, median hamstring coactivation was assessed during maximal isokinetic knee extensor strength testing and at baseline and 24-month follow-up, knee buckling and shifting was self-reported. Associations between tertiles of co-activation and knee (1) buckling, (2) shifting and (3) either buckling or shifting were assessed using logistic regression, adjusted for age, sex, knee OA and pain.


1826 participants (1089 women) were included. Mean ± SD age was 61.7 ± 7.7 years, BMI was 30.3 ± 5.5 kg/m(2) and 38.2% of knees had OA. There were no consistent statistically significant associations between hamstring coactivation and ipsilateral prevalent or incident buckling or the combination of buckling and shifting. The odds ratios for incident shifting in the highest in comparison with the lowest tertile of coactivation had similar magnitudes in the combined and medial hamstrings, but only reached statistical significance for lateral hamstring coactivation, OR(95%CI) 1.53 (0.99, 2.36).


Hamstring coactivation during an open kinetic chain quadriceps exercise was not consistently associated with prevalent or incident self-reported knee buckling or shifting in older adults with or at risk for knee OA.

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