Effects of arm weight on gait performance in healthy subjects

Hyung Suk Yang, C. Roger James, Lee T. Atkins, Steven F. Sawyer, Phillip S. Sizer, Neeraj A. Kumar, Jongyeol Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previous studies have investigated how additional arm weights affect gait. Although light weights (0.45 kg) seemed to elicit performance improvements in Parkinsonian patients, it was not studied how light weights affect gait parameters in healthy individuals. It is important to understand normal responses in a healthy population so that clinical effects might be better understood. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of arm weights on arm swing amplitude, gait performance, and muscle activity in healthy people. Twenty-two subjects walked overground at their preferred speed under different weight carriage conditions (C1: no weight; C2: unilateral arm weight; C3: bilateral arm weights; C4: waist weights). Gait speed increased in C2 (p = 0.018) and C4 (p = 0.013) when compared with C1(C1: 1.21 ± 0.08; C2: 1.25 ± 0.11; C3: 1.24 ± 0.11; C4: 1.25 ± 0.11 m/s) with an increase in cadence during C2 (p < 0.001), C3 (p = 0.008), and C4 (p < 0.001) (C1: 105.5 ± 5.2; C2: 108.5 ± 5.6; C3: 107.9 ± 5.6; C4: 108.5 ± 5.3 steps/min) and in tibialis anterior electromyographic activity on the unweighted side in C2 (p = 0.048) (C1: 21.05 ± 4.59; C2: 25.10 ± 6.10; C3: 23.93 ± 4.75; C4: 24.33 ± 6.32 μV). The results indicate that an additional sensory input with the application of the weights may result in an overcompensation with the whole body and facilitate faster walking speed when applied on one arm or around the waist. The locations of the weights and amount of the weights may elicit different responses. Various strategies of adding weights should be further investigated as a potential intervention to improve performance in individuals with various gait impairments. Although there is evidence for benefits of this intervention in Parkinsonian patients, further study is warranted in other patient populations, such as stroke patients, who might benefit from this intervention to improve gait performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Movement Science
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Arm swing
  • Walking
  • Weight carriage


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