The Effect of Different Decline Angles on the Biomechanics of Double Limb Squats and the Implications to Clinical and Training Practice

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Jim Richards, James Selfe, Jonathan Sinclair, Karen May, Gavin Thomas

Bilateral decline squatting has been well documented as a rehabilitation exercise, however, little information exists on the optimum angle of decline. The aim of this study was to determine the ankle and knee angle, moments, the patellofemoral joint load, patellar tendon load and associated muscle activity while performing a double limb squat at different decline angles and the implications to rehabilitation. Eighteen healthy subjects performed double limb squats at 6 angles of declination: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 degrees. The range of motion of the knee and ankle joints, external moments, the patellofemoral/patellar tendon load and integrated EMG of gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, rectus femoris and biceps femoris were evaluated. As the decline angle increased up to 20 degrees, the range of motion possible at the ankle and knee increased. The joint moments showed a decrease at the ankle up to 15 degrees and an increase at the knee up to 25 degrees, indicating a progressive reduction in loading around the ankle with a corresponding increase of the load in the patellar tendon and patellofemoral joint. These trends were supported by a decrease in tibialis anterior activity and an increase in the rectus femoris activity up to 15 degrees declination. However, gastrocnemius and biceps femoris activity increased as the decline angle increased above 15 degrees. The action of gastrocnemius and biceps femoris stabilises the knee against an anterior displacement of the femur on the tibia. These findings would suggest that there is little benefit in using a decline angle greater than 15-20 degrees unless the purpose is to offer an additional stability challenge to the knee joint.
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2015-0200
Key words
rehabilitation, biomechanics, electromyography, knee, ankle

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