Content » Vol 29, Issue 1

Original report

Hip stress during lifting with bent and straight knees

N Luepongsak, D E Krebs, E Olsson, P O Riley, R W Mann
Massachusetts General Hospital Biomotion Laboratory, Boston, MA, USA.
DOI: 10.2340/165019771997295764


"Correct" body mechanics during lifting are believed to protect the back by employing knee and hip flexion while keeping the back straight. Lower limb joint stress, however, has been largely ignored. We compared hip cartilage contact stress during "leg lifting" with "back lifting" (lifting with bent or straight knees, respectively) in a subject fitted with a pressure instrumented hip endoprosthesis. Synchronized pressure data and whole-body kinematics and kinetics were collected simultaneously while the subject lifted an 11. 8 kg mass from the floor to waist level. The highest pressure, 13. 7 MPa, occurred during leg lifting at the antero-lateral femoral head transducers opposed at maximum hip flexion by the postero-superior quadrant of acetabular cartilage. In back lifting, the highest pressure, 11. 5 MPa occurred in the supero-lateral aspect of the head, which during hip extension was opposed by the posterior quadrant of the acetabulum. Maximum pressures and hip torques occurred simultaneously with peak hip flexion, during the initial lifting of the burden from the floor. Acetabular contact pressures during leg lifting were on average twice as great as during back lifting, and both techniques generate much greater hip stress than gait (typically 4-6 MPa). Degenerative changes in the articular surface of the acetabulum occur primarily on the postero-superior aspect, corresponding to the locations of peak contact pressures in the present in vivo data. Thus leg lifting puts more stress on the postero-superior region, and probably contributes to more hip cartilage degeneration, than does back lifting. We conclude that although leg lifting may mechanically protect the back, it substantially increases hip cartilage stress.

Lay Abstract


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