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J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2010;23(1):39-44. doi: 10.3233/BMR-2010-0246.

The change in vastus medialis oblique and vastus lateralis electromyographic activity related to shoe heel height during treadmill walking.

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  • 1Department of Physiotherapy, College of Health and Sports Science, Daejeon University, Daejeon 300-716, Korea.



This study investigated the effect of different heel heights on the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) and vastus lateralis (VL) during treadmill walking.


17 young healthy women (age 22.06 +/- 1.2 years) were recruited. With and without a slope, the participants walked on a treadmill at a speed of 2 km/h for 90 seconds under three conditions: barefoot, 3-cm heels, and 7-cm heels. Data for surface EMG was collected from the standard sites of the VMO and VL during treadmill walking.


Significant differences were observed in the VL EMG activity on the non-dominant side between barefoot and 7-cm heels while walking with and without a slope (p< 0.05). VMO:VL EMG ratios significantly decreased for the non-dominant side while walking with and without a slope (p < 0.05). The post hoc pair-wise comparisons revealed significant differences in barefoot vs. 7-cm heel and 3-cm vs. 7-cm heels.


The findings suggest that high-heeled shoes may contribute to a potential change of the knee joint muscles while walking, especially on the non-dominant side. This study provides information that will notify future research on how high-heeled shoe affects muscle activity around the knee joint.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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