Surface muscle pressure as a measure of active and passive behavior of muscles during gait

Don A. Yungher, Michael T. Wininger, J. B. Barr, William Craelius, A. Joseph Threlkeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


While surface electromyography (SEMG) can accurately register electrical activity of muscles during gait, there are no methods to estimate muscular force non-invasively. To better understand the mechanical behavior of muscle, we evaluated surface muscle pressure (SMP) in conjunction with SEMG. Changes in anterior thigh radial pressure during isometric contractions and gait were registered by pressure sensors on the limb. During isometric knee extensions by a single subject, SMP waveforms correlated well with SEMG (r= 0.97), and SEMG onsets preceded those of SMP by 35-40. ms. SMP and SEMG signals were simultaneously recorded from the quadriceps of 10 healthy subjects during gait at speeds of 0.4, 0.8, 1.1, 1.4 and 2.2. m/s. Muscle activity onset and cessation times were objectively determined for both modalities, and results showed high intra-class correlations. SMP waveforms were highly consistent from stride to stride, while SEMG waveforms varied widely. SEMG waveforms were typically brief, while SMP waveforms tended to be biphasic and outlasted the SEMG by approximately 40% of gait cycle at all speeds. These results are consistent with mechanical models of muscle, and demonstrate the use of SMP to estimate the timing of knee extensor muscle stiffness during gait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-471
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Electromyography
  • Gait
  • Muscle
  • Pressure
  • Prosthetics
  • Robotics


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