The effect of altered stride length on iliocapsularis and pericapsular muscles of the anterior hip: An electromyography investigation during asymptomatic gait Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Anterior pericapsular muscles potentially contribute to active hip joint stability in walking by controlling anterior femoral translation in peak extension. Alternatively, these muscles could flex the hip and tension the anterior capsule to aid initiation of swing. Although never investigated, the location of Iliocapsularis and its extensive anterior hip capsule attachment imply a potential role in these functions. We hypothesised if these muscles contribute to control of femoral head translation (rather than hip flexion), their activation would decrease when peak hip extension is reduced during shorter stride walking. RESEARCH QUESTIONS:To provide the first description of iliocapsularis activity during walking and challenge the hypothesised roles of the anterior pericapsular hip muscles in gait by walking with shortened strides. METHODS:Fifteen healthy volunteers walked with self-selected and shortened stride lengths. Electromyographic recordings were made from iliocapsularis, iliacus and anterior gluteus minimus with intramuscular electrodes, and rectus femoris with surface electrodes. Stride characteristics were measured using force sensors and 3D motion capture. Ensembles of burst activity profiles for each stride length were compared. RESULTS:Iliocapsularis displayed a consistent EMG burst around toe-off (terminal hip extension) that peaked during early swing phase with self-selected strides. In shortened strides, iliocapsularis EMG increased during mid to late stance (p = 0.03), with no difference in other muscles. Iliocapsularis, iliacus and rectus femoris activity decreased during early stance (p < 0.01) in short strides, whereas gluteus minimus EMG increased (p = 0.03). SIGNIFICANCE:Iliocapsularis displayed an EMG burst around toe-off during walking, and greater EMG during mid-late stance in short stride walking, which was not seen in other pericapsular muscles. Shortened strides increase the demand for active tensioning of the hip joint capsule in initial swing, and suggests a role for iliocapsularis during active hip flexion in pain free young individuals.

publication date

  • 2019