Research Article

Effects of Fast-Walking on Muscle Activation in Young Adults and Elderly Persons

Camila Fonseca de Oliveira*, Denise Paschoal Soares, Michel Christian Bertani, Leandro Jose Rodrigues Machado and Joao Paulo Vila-Boas

Published: 01/20/2017 | Volume 1 - Issue 1 | Pages: 012-019


Coactivation of agonist and antagonist muscles participates in the regulation of joint stiffness and postural instability. Alterations on muscle activity have been revealed as an important falling risk factor. It is unclear the effects, and age-related differences, of a prolonged demanding task on the muscular coactivation levels.We compared muscle activation amplitude and coactivation of the vastus medialis, biceps femoris, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius medialis from surface EMG in 16 young adults (age 21-33) and 8 elderly adults (age 66-72) while fast-walking at 70% of their maximum heart rate. Overall, the elderly demonstrated higher coactivation indexes than the young individuals. Ankle coactivation decreased in the first half of the swing phase, while coactivation at the knee increased in the latter half of the swing phase in our elders. Alterations of muscle activation and coactivation on the knee and ankle were more prominent close to landing and in the swing phase. Our results suggest that these alterations may suggest potential concerns with respect to the risk of falls.

Read Full Article HTML DOI: 10.29328/journal.jnpr.1001002 Cite this Article


  1. Eurostat (2015) People in the EU - who are we and how do we live?
  2. Tinetti ME, Speechley M. Prevention of falls among the elderly. N Engl J Med. 1989; 320: 1055-1059. Ref.:
  3. Gandevia SC. Neural control in human muscle fatigue: Changes in muscle afferents, moto neurones and moto cortical drive. Acta Physiol Scand. 1998;162: 275-283. Ref.:
  4. Lee LW, Kerrigan DC. Identification of Kinetic Differences Between Fallers and Nonfallers in the Elderly1. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1999; 78: 242-246. Ref.:
  5. Hortobagyi T, DeVita P. Muscle pre- and coactivity during downward stepping are associated with leg stiffness in aging. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2000; 10:  117-126. Ref.:
  6. Peterson DS, Martin PE. Effects of age and walking speed on coactivation and cost of walking in healthy adults. Gait Posture. 2010; 31: 355-359. Ref.:
  7. Pereira M, Gonçalves M. Effects of fatigue induced by prolonged gait when walking on the elderly. Human Movement. 2011; 12: 242-247. Ref.:
  8. Fan Y, Li Z, Han S, Lv C, Zhang B. The influence of gait speed on the stability of walking among the elderly. Gait Posture. 2016; 47: 31-36.  Ref.:
  9. Nagano H, James L, Sparrow WA, Begg RK. Effects of walking-induced fatigue on gait function and tripping risks in older adults. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2014; 11, 155. Ref.:
  10. Schmitz A, Silder A, Heiderscheit B, Mahoney J, Thelen DG. Differences in lower-extremity muscular activation during walking between healthy older and young adults. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2009; 19: 1085-1091. Ref.:
  11. Borg GA. Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1982; 14: 377-381. Ref.:
  12. Zeni JA Jr, Richards JG, Higginson JS. Two simple methods for determining gait events during treadmill and overground walking using kinematic data. Gait Posture. 2008; 27: 710-714. Ref.:
  13. Kellis E, Arabatzi F, Papadopoulos C. Muscle co-activation around the knee in drop jumping using the co-contraction index. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2003; 13: 229-238. Ref.:
  14. Hortobágyi T, Solnik S, Gruber A, Rider P, Steinweg K, et al. Interaction between age and gait velocity in the amplitude and timing of antagonist muscle coactivation. Gait Posture. 2009; 29: 558-564. Ref.:
  15. Mian OS, Thom JM, Ardigo LP, Narici MV, Minetti AE. Metabolic cost, mechanical work, and efficiency during walking in young and older men. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2006; 186: 127-139. Ref.:
  16. Obata H, Kawashima N, Akai M, Nakazawa K, Ohtsuki T. Age-related changes of the stretch reflex excitability in human ankle muscles. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2010; 20: 55-60. Ref.:
  17. Longpré HS, Potvin JR, Maly MR. Biomechanical changes at the knee after lower limb fatigue in healthy young women. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2013; 28: 441-447. Ref.:
  18. Granacher U, Gruber M, Forderer D, Strass D, Gollhofer A. Effects of ankle fatigue on functional reflex activity during gait perturbations in young and elderly men. Gait Posture, 2010; 32: 107-112. Ref.:
  19. Hautier CA, Arsac LM, Deghdegh K, Souquet J, Belli A, et al. Influence of fatigue on EMG/force ratio and cocontraction in cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000; 32: 839-843. Ref.:
  20. Pereira MP, Gonçalves M. Muscular coactivation (CA) around the knee reduces power production in elderly women. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2011; 52: 317-321. Ref.:
  21. Parijat P, Lockhart TE. Effects of quadriceps fatigue on the biomechanics of gait and slip propensity. Gait Posture. 2008; 28: 568-573. Ref.:
  22. Hortobágyi T, Mizelle C, Beam S, DeVita P. Old Adults Perform Activities of Daily Living Near Their Maximal Capabilities. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003; 58: M453-M460. Ref.:
  23. Winter DA. Foot trajectory in human gait: a precise and multifactorial motor control task. Phys Ther. 1992; 72: 45-53; discussion 54-46. Ref.: