Determination of muscle activity during running at reduced body weight

Jaco Liebenberg, Jennifer Scharf, Dana Forrest, Janet S. Dufek, K. Masumoto, J. A. Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate how lower extremity muscles are influenced by body weight support during running at different speeds. Nine participants (age 24 ± 2 years, height 1.75 ± 0.12 m, mass 73.5 ± 15.7 kg) ran at 100%, 115%, and 125% of preferred speed at 100%, 90%, 80%, 70%, and 60% of body weight on a treadmill that provided body weight support. Preferred speed was self-selected by each participant and represented a speed that he or she could sustain if going for a 30 min run. Electromyography (EMG) data were recorded (1000 Hz, 1 min) from the bicep femoris, rectus femoris, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius for each condition together with knee angle (electrogoniometer). Average and root mean square EMG were calculated across 30 s. Muscle patterns were determined by smoothing (low-pass filter, 4 Hz) and extracting patterns for 49 cycles defined by consecutive maximum knee flexion angles. Repeated-measures analyses of variance were used to compare average and root mean square across body weight and speeds. Correlations were computed between the 100% speed/100% body weight condition and all other conditions per muscle. There was no interaction between body weight and speed (P> 0.05). Average and root mean square decreased as body weight decreased for all muscles (P< 0.05) and increased across speeds for all muscles (P< 0.05). Correlations for all muscles between conditions were high (range: 0.921-0.999). Although a percent reduction in body weight did not lead to the same reduction in muscle activity, it was clear that reducing body weight leads to a reduction in muscle activity with no changes in muscle activity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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