The effects of body weight unloading on kinetics and muscle activity of overweight males during Overground walking

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Abstract

Background:

Excess body weight has become a major worldwide health and social epidemic. Training with body weight unloading, is a common method for gait corrections for various neuromuscular impairments. In the present study we assessed the effects of body weight unloading on knee and ankle kinetics and muscle activation of overweight subjects walking overground under various levels of body weight unloading.

Methods:

Ten overweight subjects (25 ≤ BMI < 29.9 kg/m2) walked overground under a control and three (0%, 15%, 30%) body weight unloading experimental conditions. Gait parameters assessed under these conditions included knee and ankle flexion moments and the Electromygraphic activity of the Tibialis Anterior, Lateral Gastrocnemius and Vastus Lateralis.

Findings:

Increasing body weight unloading levels from 0% to 30% was found to significantly reduce the peak knee flexion and ankle plantarflexion moments. Also observed was a significant reduction in muscle activity of the Tibialis Anterior, Lateral Gastrocnemius and Vastus Lateralis under the three body-weight unloading conditions.

Interpretation:

Our results demonstrate that a reduction of up to 30% overweight subjects' body weight during gait is conducive to a reduction in the knee and ankle flexion moments and in the balancing net quadriceps moment and ankle flexors moment. The newly devised body weight unloading device is therefore an effective method for reducing joint loads allowing overweight people who require controlled weight bearing scenarios to retrain their gait while engaging in sustained walking exercise.

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