Changes in gait and posture as factors of dynamic stability during walking in pregnancy
Abstract Changes in gait and postural control during pregnancy may lead to increased fall rates during walking relative to non-pregnant women. Due to lack of empirical evidence on balance and postural control in dynamic conditions, the primary aim of this study was investigate the changes in gait and postural control as factors of stability during walking. Gait and posture of thirty-five (35) pregnant women (27 ± 6.1 years) were analysed at self-selected walking speed, and at different stage of pregnancy. The results indicate that although the gait kinematics did not differ between the trimesters, significant associations were noted between the step width, the lateral trunk lean, and the medio-lateral deviations in centre of gravity and centre of pressure. In contrast to the static conditions, anterior-posterior postural sway is not present during walking, whereas the lateral trunk lean is the primary factor women use in pregnancy to keep the centre of gravity closer to the base of support. Postural changes and those in gait kinematics were largely affected by the relative mass gain, rather than the absolute mass. Considering the importance of relative mass gain, more attention during healthy pregnancy should be given to monitoring the timing of onset of musculoskeletal changes, and design of antenatal exercise programs targeting core strength and pelvic stability. Highlights Postural dynamics may contribute to dynamic stability during walking in pregnancy. Medio-lateral trunk sway during single leg stance helps to maintain stability. Relative mass gain rather than the absolute mass affects change in gait and posture.
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