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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2011 Oct;21(5):746-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2011.07.005. Epub 2011 Aug 6.

Adaptations in the gait pattern with experimental hamstring pain.

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Clinical Motor Function Laboratory, The Parker Institute, Copenhagen University Hospital Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Pain changes movement but most studies have focused on basic physiological adaptations during non-functional movement tasks. The existing studies on how pain affects lower extremity gross movement biomechanics have primarily involved movements in which the quadriceps is the primary muscle and little attention has been given to how pain in other muscles affects functional movement. The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in the gait patterns of healthy subjects that occur during experimental muscle pain in the biceps femoris. In a cross-over study design, 14 healthy volunteers underwent EMG assisted 3D gait analyses before, during and after experimental biceps femoris pain induced by intramuscular injections of hypertonic saline. Isotonic saline injections were administered as a non-painful control. The experimental biceps femoris pain led to reductions in hip extensor moments, knee flexor and lateral rotator moments. No changes in lower extremity kinematics and EMG activity in any of the recorded muscles were observed. It is concluded that experimental muscle pain in the biceps femoris leads to changes in the gait pattern in agreement with unloading of the painful muscle. The changes are specific to the painful muscle. The present study provides support to the theory that musculoskeletal pain is a protective signal leading to changes in movement patterns that serve to unload the painful tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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