Joint Torques

Andrea Biscarini, Fabio M. Botti, and Vito E. Pettorossi

We developed a biomechanical model to determine the joint torques and loadings during squatting with a backward/forward-inclined Smith machine. The Smith squat allows a large variety of body positioning (trunk tilt, foot placement, combinations of joint angles) and easy control of weight distribution between forefoot and heel. These distinctive aspects of the exercise can be managed concurrently with the equipment inclination selected to unload specific joint structures while activating specific muscle groups. A backward (forward) equipment inclination decreases (increases) knee torque, and compressive tibiofemoral and patellofemoral forces, while enhances (depresses) hip and lumbosacral torques. For small knee flexion angles, the strain-force on the posterior cruciate ligament increases (decreases) with a backward (forward) equipment inclination, whereas for large knee flexion angles, this behavior is reversed. In the 0 to 60 degree range of knee flexion angles, loads on both cruciate ligaments may be simultaneously suppressed by a 30 degree backward equipment inclination and selecting, for each value of the knee angle, specific pairs of ankle and hip angles. The anterior cruciate ligament is safely maintained unloaded by squatting with backward equipment inclination and uniform/forward foot weight distribution. The conditions for the development of anterior cruciate ligament strain forces are clearly explained.