Background: The step-down tap (SDT) is a commonly used task to assess unilateral neuromuscular control and to identify deficient movement patterns of the trunk and lower extremities. However, instruction of the SDT varies greatly in recent reports, which may alter the clinical interpretation of potential movement deficiencies. Research question: The purpose of this study was to identify differences in trunk and lower extremity kinematics between variations of a step-down tap that differ based on step direction, fixing the arms or stance foot, and trial collection methods. Methods: This study followed a single-group repeated measures design in a laboratory setting. Three-dimensional angles of the trunk, hip, and knee of 18 participants were evaluated at 60 degrees of knee flexion and at maximum squat depth during six SDT variations. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were performed to determine the effects of an anterior verse lateral step direction, a fixed arm or stance foot position, and an individual verse continuous trial collection method. Results: Knee flexion, external pelvic rotation, and external trunk rotation were greater in the anterior SDT, while the lateral SDT elicited greater pelvic tilt and hip flexion. Additionally, overall squat depth was greater across participants during the anterior SDT. Few clinically significant differences (≥3°) were observed due to fixing arm or stance foot position, and no differences were identified based on trial collection methods. Significance: The standardization of task instructions for motion analysis protocols utilized for research purposes and/or clinical decision-making is crucial. Specifically, for the SDT, the authors recommend using the anterior step direction. A fixed arm and stance foot position is not necessary, and trials may be collected individually or continuously based on convenience for a small number of repetitions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine