Strength training improves fall-related gait kinematics in the elderly: a randomized controlled trial

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2009 Dec;24(10):819-25. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2009.07.012. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


Background: Falls are one of the greatest concerns among the elderly. Among a number of strategies proposed to reduce the risk of falls, improving muscle strength has been applied as a successful preventive strategy. Although it has been suggested as a relevant strategy, no studies have analyzed how muscle strength improvements affect the gait pattern. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a lower limb strength training program on gait kinematics parameters associated with the risk of falls in elderly women.

Methods: Twenty seven elderly women were assigned in a balance and randomized order into an experimental (n=14; age=61.1 (4.3)years, BMI=26.4 (2.8)kgm(-2)) and a control (n=13; age=61.6 (6.6)years; BMI=25.9 (3.0)kgm(-2)) group. The EG performed lower limb strength training during 12 weeks (3 days per week), being training load increased weekly.

Findings: Primary outcomes were gait kinematics parameters and maximum voluntary isometric contractions at pre- and post-training period. Secondary outcomes were training load improvement weekly and one repetition maximum every two weeks. The 1 maximal repetition increment ranged from 32% to 97% and was the best predictor of changes in gait parameters (spatial, temporal and angular variables) after training for the experimental group. Z-score analysis revealed that the strength training was effective in reversing age-related changes in gait speed, stride length, cadence and toe clearance, approaching the elderly to reference values for healthy young women.

Interpretation: Lower limb strength training improves fall-related gait kinematic parameters. Thus, strength training programs should be recommended to the elderly women in order to change their gait pattern towards young adults.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Postural Balance
  • Resistance Training
  • Treatment Outcome