Obesity is associated with prolonged activity of the quadriceps and gastrocnemii during gait
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PURPOSE: To examine the effect of obesity and its potential interaction with knee OA presence on the electromyography patterns of the major knee joint periarticular muscles during walking. SCOPE: One hundred and eighteen asymptomatic adults and 177 adults with moderate knee osteoarthritis were subdivided into categories of healthy weight (n = 77; 20 kg/m(2) < BMI < 25 kg/m(2)), overweight (n = 117; 25 kg/m(2) ⩽ BMI < 30 kg/m(2)), and obese (n = 101; BMI ⩾ 30 kg/m(2) based on their body mass index (BMI). All individuals underwent a three-dimensional gait analysis. Surface electromyograms from the lateral and medial gastrocnemii, lateral and medial hamstrings, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and rectus femoris were recorded during self-selected speed walking. Principal component analysis was used to extract major features of amplitude and temporal pattern variability from the electromyograms of each muscle group (gastrocnemii, quadriceps, hamstrings separately). Analysis of variance models tested for main BMI category effects and interaction effects for these features (α = 0.05). Statistically significant BMI category (i.e. obesity) effects were found for features that described more prolonged activations of the gastrocnemii and quadriceps muscles during the stance phase of gait with obesity (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Obesity was associated with prolonged activation of quadriceps and gastrocnemii, which can result in prolonged knee joint contact loading, and thereby may contribute to the predisposition of knee OA development and progression in obese individuals.
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