Trunk sway during walking among older adults: norms and correlation with gait velocity

Gait Posture. 2014 Sep;40(4):676-81. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.07.023. Epub 2014 Aug 12.


The aim of this study was to establish quantitative norms for trunk sway during walking for older male and female ambulatory adults at different age groups (65-70, 71-75, 76-80, ≥81). We also assessed the relationship between dynamic trunk sway and gait velocity in older individuals with clinically normal or abnormal gaits. Trunk sway in medio-lateral (roll) and antero-posterior (pitch) planes was measured using a body-mounted gyroscope (SwayStar) during walking on a 4.5 m long instrumented walkway. Of the 284 older adults (mean age 76.8, 54.6% women) in this sample, the mean ± SD value of roll and pitch angles were 6.0 ± 2.0° and 6.7 ± 2.2° respectively. Older women showed significantly greater trunk sway in both roll and pitch angles than older men (p<0.01). In both men and women, there was no significant association of roll angle with age although gait velocity decreased with increasing age. The relationship between roll angle and gait velocity was U-shaped for the overall sample. Among the subgroup with clinically normal gait, increased roll angle was associated with increased gait velocity (p<0.001). However, there was no significant relationship between roll angle and gait velocity among the subgroup with abnormal gait. Therefore, the relationship between medio-lateral trunk sway and gait velocity differs depending on whether gait is clinically normal. We conclude that trunk sway during walking should be interpreted with consideration of both gait velocity and presence of gait abnormality in older adults.

Keywords: Balance; Gait velocity; Older adults; Trunk sway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Torso / physiology*