Age-related changes in trunk muscle activity and spinal and lower limb kinematics during gait

Rebecca Crawford, Leonardo Gizzi, Angela Dieterich, Áine Ni Mhuiris, Deborah Falla

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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The influence of age on spinal muscle activation patterns and its relation to kinematics is poorly understood. We aimed at understanding age-related changes to spine and trunk muscle activity in addition to spinal and lower limb kinematics during treadmill walking under various conditions. An observational study was conducted evaluating asymptomatic young (n = 10; 3F, 7M; 26.3±2.5yrs) and older (n = 9; 3F, 6M; 67.1±4.2yrs) adults' treadmill walking at 2km/h and 4km/h, each at 0, 1, 5, and 10% inclination. Unilateral (right side) electromyography (EMG) was recorded from deep and superficial multifidus (intramuscular) and erector spinae and abdominal obliques (surface); trunk and leg kinematics were also measured. Muscle activity was characterised by peak amplitude and duration of activity, and the time-point of peak amplitude in the gait cycle (0-100%). Peak activation in older adults was lower for the superficial multifidus (p<0.0001) and higher for the thoracolumbar (p<0.001) and lumbar erector spinae (p<0.01). The duration of activation was longer in older adults for all muscles (p<0.05) except the superficial multifidus, and longer during faster walking for all participants. The time-point of peak amplitude in the gait cycle was earlier in older participants for the external obliques (p<0.05). Walking speed appeared to influence muscle activity more than inclination. Older adults used less spine, trunk and lower limb motion, except at the ankle. Age-related differences within multifidus and between paravertebral and trunk muscles were inconsistent. Walking at 4km/h at 5-10% inclination may specifically target the lumbar paravertebral muscles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0206514
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018


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