Individual and generalized lower limb muscle activity and kinematic adaptations during walking on an unpredictable irregular surface
© Apps et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014
Published: 8 April 2014
Natural surfaces are irregular but limited studies have researched their effect on gait because of the predominantly flat surfaces where measurements are taken . Regularly, biomechanical research also tends to group mean results of many subjects together to find the generalised response to a constraint. This often hides individual adaptation strategies . Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyse biomechanical responses during walking on an unpredictable irregular surface (UIS), at the individual level.
Seventeen healthy, male participants (mean (SD): 24.2 (1.6) years, 1.76 (0.05) m, 71.6 (8.2) kg) walked on a treadmill at 5 km/h with a predictable regular surface (PRS) and on UIS, created by attaching EVA dome shaped inserts of different heights (10 mm and 15 mm, both in diameter of 140 mm) and hardness (40 and 70 Asker C). The mean and standard deviation, as a measure of variability, were calculated for lower limb kinematics and electromyography of five selected muscles of the left leg for 16 steps. Single parameters between individuals were compared, and additionally, group results between the treadmill surfaces were obtained by Wilcoxon signed ranked tests (p<.05).
Individual thigh muscle EMG responses were accompanied by similar kinematics between participants when walking on UIS. Thus, mainly the surface constraint altered movement kinematics, although underlying muscle activation strategies were individualised. For a better understanding of adaptations to shoe-surface interactions, next to searching for common neuro-muscular patterns during the whole gait cycle or total stance phase, more focus should be placed on individual analyses of sub-periods of stance phase.
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