Trunk muscle activation patterns during walking at different speeds

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2007 Apr;17(2):245-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2006.01.002. Epub 2006 Mar 6.


Investigations of trunk muscle activation during gait are rare in the literature. As yet, the small body of literature on trunk muscle activation during gait does not include any systematic study on the influence of walking speed. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze trunk muscle activation patterns at different walking speeds. Fifteen healthy men were investigated during walking on a treadmill at speeds of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 km/h. Five trunk muscles were investigated using surface EMG (SEMG). Data were time normalized according to stride time and grand averaged SEMG curves were calculated. From these data stride characteristics were extracted: mean SEMG amplitude, minimum SEMG level and the variation coefficient (VC) over the stride period. With increasing walking speed, muscle activation patterns remained similar in terms of phase dependent activation during stride, but mean amplitudes increased generally. Phasic activation, indicated by VC, increased also, but remained almost unchanged for the back muscles (lumbar multifidus and erector spinae) between 4 and 6 km/h. During stride, minimum amplitude reached a minimum at 4 km/h for the back muscles, but for internal oblique muscle it decreased continuously from 2 to 6 km/h. Cumulative sidewise activation of all investigated muscles reached maximum amplitudes during the contralateral heel strike and propulsion phases. The observed changes argue for a speed dependent modulation of activation of trunk muscles within the investigated range of walking speeds prior to strictly maintaining certain activation characteristics for all walking speeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Acceleration*
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Walking / physiology*