Walking with a four wheeled walker (rollator) significantly reduces EMG lower-limb muscle activity in healthy subjects

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016 Jan;20(1):65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.06.002. Epub 2015 Jun 9.


Objective: To investigate the immediate effect of four-wheeled- walker(rollator)walking on lower-limb muscle activity and trunk-sway in healthy subjects.

Methods: In this cross-sectional design electromyographic (EMG) data was collected in six lower-limb muscle groups and trunk-sway was measured as peak-to-peak angular displacement of the centre-of-mass (level L2/3) in the sagittal and frontal-planes using the SwayStar balance system. 19 subjects walked at self-selected speed firstly without a rollator then in randomised order 1. with rollator 2. with rollator with increased weight-bearing.

Results: Rollator-walking caused statistically significant reductions in EMG activity in lower-limb muscle groups and effect-sizes were medium to large. Increased weight-bearing increased the effect. Trunk-sway in the sagittal and frontal-planes showed no statistically significant difference between conditions.

Conclusion: Rollator-walking reduces lower-limb muscle activity but trunk-sway remains unchanged as stability is likely gained through forces generated by the upper-limbs. Short-term stability is gained but the long-term effect is unclear and requires investigation.

Keywords: Assistive devices; EMG; Rollator; Trunk stability; Wheeled-walker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Walkers*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing