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

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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.

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