Effect of Gait Speed on Muscle Activity Patterns and Magnitude During Stance

in Motor Control
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This study aims to assess the influence of gait speed (manipulated through cadence) on muscle activity patterns and activation degree during stance.


Thirtyfive healthy individuals participated in this study. Surface electromyographic activity from the gastrocnemius medialis (GM), gluteus maximus (GMax), biceps femoris (BF) and rectus femoris (RF) was acquired with subjects walking at three different speeds.


Speed influenced: (1) relative motor activity patterns at heel strike, midstance-propulsion transition and propulsion; (2) the activity level of RF, GMax, GM and BF, in decreasing order, with higher activity at the fastest and slowest speeds.


In general, muscle activity was higher at the fastest and slowest speeds than at the self-selected speed and only the activity of the main actions in each subphase remained stable. These findings suggest that gait speeds different from the self-selected speed influence not only activity levels but also relative muscle activity patterns. As a result, caution is advised when choosing standard speeds in gait studies, as this can lead to increased variability in relative muscle activity patterns.

Sousa is with Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde do Instituto Politécnico do Porto (ESTSP-IPP), Área Científica de Fisioterapia / Centro de Estudos de Movimento e Actividade Humana, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, and Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), Porto, Portugal. Tavares is with Instituto de Engenharia Mecânica e Gestão Industrial and Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.

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