Background: There are many anatomical changes
during pregnancy that could potentially lead to substantial alterations
in gait. Gait deviations may contribute to a variety of musculoskeletal
overuse conditions associated with pregnancy, such as low-back,
hip, and calf pain. Because we are aware of little research on this
topic, the purpose of this study was to objectively analyze gait
Methods: Three-dimensional gait analysis was
performed on fifteen women during the second half of the last trimester
of pregnancy and again one year post partum. Selected kinematic
and kinetic parameters for the pregnancy and one-year postpartum
conditions were compared with use of paired t tests (95 percent
Results: Overall, gait kinematics were remarkably
unchanged during pregnancy. No evidence of a so-called waddling
gait during pregnancy was found. Maximum anterior pelvic tilt during
gait increased a mean of 4 degrees during pregnancy, although individual
subject-to-subject variation (range, an increase of 13 degrees to
a decrease of 10 degrees) was observed. Significant increases in
hip and ankle kinetic gait parameters, however, were observed during
pregnancy (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Significant increases in kinetic
gait parameters during pregnancy (p < 0.05) explain how gait
motion remained relatively unchanged despite increases in body mass
and width as well as changes in mass distribution about the trunk.
This finding indicates that during pregnancy there may be an increased
demand placed on hip abductor, hip extensor, and ankle plantar flexor
muscles during walking.
Clinical Relevance: Many of the common musculoskeletal
problems associated with pregnancy may be due, in part, to musculoskeletal
overuse injuries incurred as a consequence of secondary gait deviations
that compensate for changes in body mass and distribution. Physicians
caring for pregnant women with musculoskeletal problems should emphasize the
value of exercise and conditioning during pregnancy for both preventative
and rehabilitative management.