Lower Extremity Power Training Improves Healthy Old Adults’ Gait Biomechanics

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Purpose: Age-related slowing of gait speed predicts many clinical conditions in later life. We examined the kinematic and kinetic mechanisms of how lower extremity power training increases healthy old adults’ gait speed.

Methods: We randomly allocated old adults to a training (age 74.3 y, 9 males, 6 females) and a control group (age 73.6 y, 3 males, 4 females) and compared the biomechanics of habitual and fast gait before and after 16 sessions (8 weeks) of lower extremity power training.

Results: Training increased maximal leg press load by ∼40% (P < 0.05) and maximal voluntary force in five groups of leg muscles by ∼32% (P < 0.05) in the training group. Training vs. control tended to increase habitual (10.8 vs. 7.6%) and fast gait speed (17.6 vs. 9.0%; all P < 0.05) more. In the training group only, these increases in gait speed correlated with increases in stride length (habitual: r2 = 0.84, fast: r2 = 0.89). Training made old adults’ gait more erect: hip and knee extension increased in the stance phase of gait. Training increased ankle joint positive work by 3.3 J (control: −0.4 J, Group by Time interaction: P < 0.05), which correlated r2 = 0.58 and r2 = 0.67 with increases in habitual and fast gait speed without changes in hip and knee joint powers.

Conclusion: Increases in leg muscle power increased healthy old adults’ gait speed through correlated increases in stride length and ankle plantarflexor work generation.

Original Citation

Uematsu, A., Hortobágyi, T., Tsuchiya, K., Kadono, N., Kobayashi, H., Ogawa, T., & Suzuki, S. (2018). Lower Extremity Power Training Improves Healthy Old Adults’ Gait Biomechanics. Gait & Posture 62(May 2018), 303-310. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.03.036