An exploratory analysis of gait biomechanics and muscle activation in pregnant females with high and low scores for low back or pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy

Jennifer J. Bagwell, Nicholas Reynolds, Jo Armour Smith, Michelle Walaszek, Hannah Runez, Kristina Lam, Julie Peterson, Dimitrios Katsavelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to compare gait kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activation between pregnant females with high and low scores for low back and/or pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy. Methods: Twenty participants tested during second trimester, third trimester, and again post-partum. At each session, motion capture, force plates, and surface electromyography data were captured during self-selected velocity over-ground walking. Participants completed the Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale (QBPDS) and were assigned to high (QBPDS ≥15) or low pain groups (QBPDS <15) based on third trimester scores. Two-way mixed model ANOVAs were used to compare high and low pain groups over time. Findings: Nine participants met the high pain group criteria and 11 were low pain. During second trimester the high pain group compared to the low pain group demonstrated smaller peak hip flexor moments, total hip work, percent hip contribution to work, and larger percent ankle contribution to work. Pregnant females demonstrated greater hip, knee, and ankle moments, ankle work, and gluteus maximus muscle activation third trimester than second trimester. Interpretation: Reduced hip and greater ankle contribution to work in the high pain group during second trimester could indicate decreased hip utilization early in pregnancy and may contribute to disability as pregnancy progresses. It is also possible kinetic differences during second trimester reflect an early strategy to reduce pain by avoiding hip joint loading. Increased moments and work during third trimester indicate a clinical imperative to better prepare pregnant females to accommodate increased joint loading and muscular demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105705
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Volume97
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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