Muscle Activity During Running With Different Body-Weight-Support Mechanisms: Aquatic Environment Versus Body-Weight-Support Treadmill

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John A. Mercer
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Bryon C. Applequist
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Kenji Masumoto
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Body-weight (BW) support during running can be accomplished using deep-water running (DWR; 100% BW support) and a lower-body positive-pressure (LBPP) treadmill.


To compare lower-extremity muscle activity during DWR and running on an LBPP treadmill at matched stride frequency.


Eight subjects (40 ± 6.5 y, 173 ± 7.2 cm, 66.9 ± 11.7 kg) completed 4 running conditions all at a preferred stride frequency that was determined while running with no support. Two conditions were running on the LBPP treadmill at 60% and 80% of BW, and the other 2 conditions were different DWR styles: high knee (DWR-HK) and cross-country (DWR-CC). Average (AVG) and root-mean-square (RMS) electromyography (rectus femoris, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius, and tibialis anterior) were each compared among conditions (repeated-measures analysis of variance).


Results for AVG and RMS variables were identical for statistical tests for each muscle. Rectus femoris electromyography during DWR-HK was lower than that of DWR-CC (P < .05) but not different than either 60% BW or 80% BW (P > .05). Biceps femoris electromyography was less during DWR-HK than DWR-CC (P < .05) but greater during DWR-HK than either BW 60% or BW 80% (P < .05). Neither gastrocnemius nor tibialis anterior electromyography differed between conditions (P > .05).


Neither the mechanism of BW support nor style of DWR influenced gastrocnemius or tibialis anterior muscle activity during running at the same stride frequency. However, rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscle activity were influenced by not only the mechanism of BW support but also the style of DWR.

Mercer and Applequist are with the Dept of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV. Masumoto is with the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies and Social Sciences, Fukuoka Prefectural University, Tagawa, Japan. Address author correspondence to John Mercer at john.

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