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Perinatal running participation has increased recently; however, pregnancy related symptoms can limit activity. Perinatal running biomechanics could inform interventions to help perinatal individuals maintain an active lifestyle.

Research question

Are perinatal running biomaechanics and muscle activation different compared to nulligravida females?


Sixteen pregnant participants completed self-selected velocity running during second trimester (2 T), third trimester (3 T), and postpartum (PP) and 16 matched controls completed these procedures once in this case control study. Kinematic, kinetic, and electromyography (EMG) data were collected using a motion capture system, force plates, and EMG electrodes. Peak trunk, pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle kinematics and hip, knee, and ankle moments during stance phase, and average and peak erector spinae (ES), gluteus maximus (GMax), and gluteus medius (GMed) EMG amplitude and duration of activation during stance and swing phases were calculated. Independent t-tests were used to compare 2 T, 3 T, and PP to control participants (α < 0.05).


Running velocity was slower during 3 T compared to control participants. At all pregnancy timepoints compared to the control group, peak trunk contralateral rotation was smaller. During 2 T and 3 T peak hip flexor moments were smaller. At 3 T pelvis contralateral rotation was smaller, ES average amplitude was greater during swing, GMax percent duration during stance and GMed percent duration during swing were smaller. At PP trunk flexion was smaller and knee abduction was greater (all p < 0.05).


Decreased running velocity may help offset increased demand during pregnancy. During 3 T, greater ES activation, smaller trunk and pelvis motion, and altered gluteal activation could indicate trunk rigidity combined with modified hip stabilizer muscle utilization. During PP, the rigid trunk combined with greater knee abduction may indicate hip and trunk strength deficits. Altered trunk and hip motion and activation could be relevant to pathologies such as perinatal low back, pelvic girdle, or knee pain.


This article was originally published in Gait & Posture, volume 109, in 2024.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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