The aim of the study was the quantitative assessment of the concomitant recruitment of rectus femoris (RF) and vastus lateralis (VL) in a group of 11 healthy young adults during walking. To this aim, Statistical gait analysis, a recent methodology performing a statistical characterization of gait by averaging spatial-temporal and surface-EMG-based parameters over numerous strides, was performed in each subject. Superimpositions between RF and VL activity were detected from terminal swing to the following loading response in 99.0±25.8% of strides. This superimposition could be intended as a synergic action of the two muscles for controlling weight bearing, to assist knee extension and to control knee flexion. A further infrequent (<5% of the strides) superimposition was detected in mid and terminal stance, suggesting that the two muscles are working on different joints: RF activity could be interpreted as active participation in hip flexion, while VL activity as the main contribution in modulating rapid knee flexion. These findings have the merit to provide a novel data on the variability of the reciprocal role of RF and VL during walking, allowing a deeper insight in the physiological mechanisms that regulate the knee flexion/extension.
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