This study investigated the whole body frontal plane mechanics among young (26 ± 6 years), early old (61 ± 5 years), and old (78 ± 4 years) adults during walking, running, and sprinting. The age-groups had similar walking (1.6 m/s) and running (4.0 m/s) speeds, but different maximal sprinting speed (young 9.3 m/s, early old 7.9 m/s, and old 6.6 m/s). Surprisingly, although the old group exerted much lower vertical ground reaction force during running and sprinting, the hip frontal plane moment did not differ between the age-groups. Kinematic analysis demonstrated increased hip adduction and pelvis drop, as well as reduced trunk lateral flexion among old adults, especially during sprinting. These alterations in the hip and pelvis motions may reflect insufficient force production of hip abductors to stabilize the pelvis during single-limb support, while limited trunk lateral flexion may enhance control of the mediolateral balance. On the other hand, larger trunk side-to-side movement among the young and early old adults may provide a mechanism to prevent the increase of the hip frontal moment despite greater vertical ground reaction force. This, in turn, can assist hip abductors to maintain stability of the pelvis during sprinting while allowing powerful force generation by a large adductor muscle group.
Keywords: Aging; frontal plane mechanics; gait; kinematics; kinetics; running; sprinting; walking.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.