Toe walking: Muscular demands at the ankle and knee

Jacquelin Perry, Judith M. Burnfield, Jo Anne K. Gronley, Sara J. Mulroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the relationship between electromyographic activity and internal moment in heel-toe and toe walking. Design: Simultaneous recording of stride characteristics and kinematic, kinetic, and intramuscular electromyographic data; paired t tests identified significant between-condition differences. Setting: Gait laboratory. Participants: Ten able-bodied subjects. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Kinematic, moment, power, and electromyographic variables (ankle, knee). Results: Compared with heel-toe walking, toe walking showed greater plantarflexion during stance (P<.001), higher plantartlexor moments (peak, mean) during loading response (P<.001) and midstance (P<.001), lower mean plantarflexor moments during terminal stance (P=.002), premature soleus (P=.001) and gastrocnemius (P<.001) activity, and higher levels of mean soleus and gastrocnemius activity during stance. During toe walking, the peak internal knee extensor moment was lower in midstance (P=.002), and power absorption was reduced in loading response; however, vastus intermedius electromyographic activity was not reduced. Conclusions: During toe walking, terminal stance soleus and gastrocnemius activity was greater, despite a lower mean internal plantarflexor moment. The dichotomy between internal moments and muscle effort (ie, electromyographic activity) was consistent with the reduction in force- generation capacity of the calf muscles when the ankle was in a plantarflexed position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Biomechanics
  • Electromyography
  • Gait
  • Rehabilitation
  • Torque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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