Ankle and knee biomechanics during normal walking following ankle plantarflexor fatigue

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2017 Aug;35:24-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2017.05.007. Epub 2017 May 30.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the immediate effects of unilateral ankle plantarflexor fatigue on bilateral knee and ankle biomechanics during gait. Lower leg kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activation were assessed before and after an ankle plantarflexor fatiguing protocol in 31 healthy individuals. Fatigue (defined as >10% reduction in maximal isometric ankle plantarflexor torque production and a downward shift in the median power frequency of both heads of the gastrocnemius muscle of the fatigued limb) was achieved in 18 individuals, and only their data were used for analysis purposes. Compared to pre-fatigue walking trials, medial gastrocnemius activity was significantly reduced in the study (fatigued) limb. Other main changes following fatigue included significantly more knee flexion during loading, and an associated larger external knee flexion moment in the study limb. At the ankle joint, participants exhibited significantly less peak plantarflexion (occurring at toe-off) with fatigue. No significant differences were observed in the contralateral (non-fatigued) limb. Findings from this study indicate that fatigue of the ankle plantarflexor muscle does not produce widespread changes in gait biomechanics, suggesting that small to moderate changes in maximal ankle plantarflexor force production capacity (either an increase or decrease) will not have a substantial impact on normal lower limb functioning during gait.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Fatigue; Gait; Gastrocnemius; Muscle.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Torque
  • Walking / physiology*