Hip and trunk muscle activity and mechanics during walking with and without unilateral weight

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Pelvic drop is caused by decreased hip abductor muscle activity and is associated with lower-extremity injury. Hip abductor strengthening exercises are well established; however, no standard method exists to increase hip abductor activity during functional activities. The purpose of this research was to study the effects of walking with a unilateral weight. A total of 26 healthy adults walked on an instrumented treadmill with and without handheld weight (15%-20% body weight). Muscle activity, kinematic, and kinetic data were collected using surface electromyography, motion capture, and force plates, respectively. Average hip and trunk muscle activity, hip, pelvic, and trunk angles, and peak internal hip moments during stance were compared for each side (contralateral/ipsilateral to the weight) between conditions (unweighted/weighted) using a generalized linear model with generalized estimating equation correction. Interactions between condition and side were observed for muscle activity, frontal plane pelvic and trunk angles, and frontal plane hip moments (P ≤ .003). Compared with the unweighted condition, the weighted condition had higher hip abductor activity contralateral to the weight (P < .001), while no change was found ipsilateral to the weight (P ≥ .790). Similar changes were found for kinematic and kinetic variables. Walking with a unilateral weight may be a therapeutic option to increase functional hip abductor activity.

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