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J Biomech. 2013 Apr 26;46(7):1255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.02.019. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Empirical assessment of dynamic hamstring function during human walking.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706-1572 , USA.


The hamstrings are often associated with the development of crouch gait, a fatiguing form of walking characterized by excessive hip flexion, knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion during stance. However, recent studies have called into question whether abnormally active hamstrings induce the limb to move into a crouch posture. The purpose of this study was to directly measure the influence of the hamstrings on limb posture during stance. Nineteen healthy young adults walked on an instrumented treadmill at their preferred speed. A 90 ms pulse train was used to stimulate the medial hamstrings during either terminal swing or loading response of random gait cycles. Induced motion was defined as the difference in joint angle trajectories between stimulated and non-stimulated strides. A dynamic musculoskeletal simulation of normal gait was generated and similarly perturbed by increasing hamstring excitation. The experiments show that hamstring stimulation induced a significant increase in posterior pelvic tilt, knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion during stance, while having relatively less influence on the hip angular trajectory. The induced motion patterns were similar whether the hamstrings were stimulated during late swing or early stance, and were generally consistent with the direction of induced motion predicted by gait simulation models. Hence, we conclude that overactive hamstrings have the potential to induce the limb to move toward a crouch gait posture.

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