Kinematic Adaptations of Forward and Backward Walking on Land and in Water

Open access


The aim of this study was to compare sagittal plane lower limb kinematics during walking on land and submerged to the hip in water. Eight healthy adults (age 22.1 ± 1.1 years, body height 174.8 ± 7.1 cm, body mass 63.4 ± 6.2 kg) were asked to cover a distance of 10 m at comfortable speed with controlled step frequency, walking forward or backward. Sagittal plane lower limb kinematics were obtained from three dimensional video analysis to compare spatiotemporal gait parameters and joint angles at selected events using two-way repeated measures ANOVA. Key findings were a reduced walking speed, stride length, step length and a support phase in water, and step length asymmetry was higher compared to the land condition (p<0.05). At initial contact, knees and hips were more flexed during walking forward in water, whilst, ankles were more dorsiflexed during walking backward in water. At final stance, knees and ankles were more flexed during forward walking, whilst the hip was more flexed during backward walking. These results show how walking in water differs from walking on land, and provide valuable insights into the development and prescription of rehabilitation and training programs.

Barela A, Duarte M. Biomechanical characteristics of elderly individuals walking on land and in water. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 2008; 18(3): 446-454

Barela A, Stolf SF, Duarte M. Biomechanical characteristics of adults walking in shallow water and on land. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 2006; 16(3): 250-256

Bell AL, Pedersen DR, Brand RA. A comparison of the accuracy of several hip center location prediction methods. J Biomech, 1990; 23(6): 617-621.

Bohannon RW, Andrews AW, Smith MB. Rehabilitation goals of patients with hemiplegia. Int J Rehabil Res, 1988; 11(2): 181-183

Bowden MG, Embry AE, Perry LA, Duncan PW. Rehabilitation of Walking After Stroke. Curr Treat Options Neurol, 2012; 14(6): 521-530

Carneiro L, Michaelsen SM, Roesler H, Haupenthal A, Hubert M, Mallmann E. Vertical reaction forces and kinematics of backward walking underwater. Gait Posture, 2012; 35(2): 225-230

Chevutschi A, Alberty M, Lensel G, Pardessus V, Thevenon A. Comparison of maximal and spontaneous speeds during walking on dry land and water. Gait Posture, 2009; 29(3): 403-407

Denning WM, Bressel E, Dolny D. Underwater treadmill exercise as a potential treatment for adults with osteoarthritis. Int J Aquatic Res Educ, 2010; 4: 70-80

Gordon CD, Wilks R, McCaw-Binns A. Effect of Aerobic Exercise (Walking) Training on Functional Status and Health-related Quality of Life in Chronic Stroke Survivors A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stroke, 2013; 44(4): 1179-1181

Grasso R, Bianchi L, Lacquaniti F. Motor patterns for human gait: Backward versus forward locomotion. J Neurophysiol, 1998; 80(4): 1868-1885

Kachanathu SJ, Hafez AR, Zakaria AR. Efficacy of backward versus forward walking on hamstring strain rehabilitation. Int J Ther Rehabil Res, 2013; 2(1): 8-14

Kim YS, Park J, Shim JK. Effects of Aquatic Backward Locomotion Exercise and Progressive Resistance Exercise on Lumbar Extension Strength in Patients Who Have Undergone Lumbar Diskectomy. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 2010; 91(2): 208-214

Knudson D. Significant and meaningful effects in sports biomechanics research. Sports Biomech, 2009; 8(1): 96-104

Kodesh E, Kafri M, Dar G, Dickstein R. Walking speed, unilateral leg loading, and step symmetry in young adults. Gait Posture, 2012; 35(1): 66-69

Kwon YH. Object plane deformation due to refraction in two-dimensional underwater motion analysis. J Appl Biomech, 1999; 15(4): 396-403

Kwon YH, Casebolt JB. Effects of light refraction on the accuracy of camera calibration and reconstruction in underwater motion analysis. Sports Biomech, 2006; 5(2): 315-340

Lythgo N, Wilson C, Galea M. Basic gait and symmetry measures for primary school-aged children and young adults. II: Walking at slow, free and fast speed. Gait Posture, 2011; 33(1): 29-35

Masumoto K, Hamada A, Tomonaga H, Kodama K, Hotta N. Physiological Responses, Rating of Perceived Exertion, and Stride Characteristics During Walking on Dry Land and Walking in Water, Both With and Without a Water Current. J Sport Rehabil, 2012; 21(2): 175-181

Masumoto K, Hamada A, Tomonaga HO, Kodama K, Amamoto Y, Nishizaki Y, Hotta N. Physiological and perceptual responses to backward and forward treadmill walking in water. Gait Posture, 2009; 29(2): 199-203

Masumoto K, Shono T, Hotta N, Fujishima K. Muscle activation, cardiorespiratory response, and rating of perceived exertion in older subjects while walking in water and on dry land. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 2008; 18(4): 581-590

Masumoto K, Takasugi S, Hotta N, Fujishima K, Iwamoto Y. A comparison of muscle activity and heart rate response during backward and forward walking on an underwater treadmill. Gait Posture, 2007a; 25(2): 222-228

Masumoto K, Takasugi SI, Hotta N, Fujishima K, Iwamoto Y. A comparison of muscle activity and heart rate response during backward and forward walking on an underwater treadmill. Gait Posture, 2007b; 25(2): 222-228

Orselli MIV, Duarte M. Joint forces and torques when walking in shallow water. J Biomech, 2011; 44(6): 1170-1175

Patterson KK, Nadkarni NK, Black SE, McIlroy WE. Gait symmetry and velocity differ in their relationship to age. Gait Posture, 2012a; 35(4): 590-594

Patterson KK, Nadkarni NK, Black SE, McIlroy WE. Gait symmetry and velocity differ in their relationship to age. Gait Posture, 2012b; 35(4): 590-594

Prins J, Cutner D. Aquatic therapy in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Clin Sports Med, 1999; 18(2): 447-461

Routson RL, Clark DJ, Bowden MG, Kautz SA, Neptune RR. The influence of locomotor rehabilitation on module quality and post-stroke hemiparetic walking performance. Gait Posture, 2013; 38(3): 511-517

Sadeghi H, Allard P, Prince F, Labelle H. Symmetry and limb dominance in able-bodied gait: a review. Gait Posture, 2000; 12(1): 34-45

Schmid A, Duncan PW, Studenski S, Lai SM, Richards L, Perera S, Wu SS. Improvements in speed-based gait classifications are meaningful. Stroke, 2007; 38(7): 2096-2100

Tsourlou T, Benik A, Dipla K, Zafeiridis A, Kellis S. The effects of a twenty-four-week aquatic training program on muscular strength performance in healthy elderly women. J Strength Cond Res, 2006; 20(4): 811-818

Volaklis KA, Spassis AT, Tokmakidis SP. Land versus water exercise in patients with coronary artery disease: effects on body composition, blood lipids, and physical fitness. Am Heart J, 2007; 154(3): 560.e1-6

Journal of Human Kinetics

The Journal of Academy of Physical Education in Katowice

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.174
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.634

CiteScore 2017: 1.31

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.516
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.906

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 202 197 20
PDF Downloads 66 63 5