The purpose of this study was to investigate kinematic and spatiotemporal variables of aquatic treadmill walking at three different water depths. A total of 15 healthy individuals completed three two-minute walking trials at three different water depths. The aquatic treadmill walking was conducted at waist-depth, chest-depth and neck-depth, while a customised 3-D underwater motion analysis system captured their walking. Each participant’s self-selected walking speed at the waist level was used as a reference speed, which was applied to the remaining two test conditions. A repeated measures ANOVA showed statistically significant differences among the three walking conditions in stride length, cadence, peak hip extension, hip range of motion (ROM), peak ankle plantar flexion and ankle ROM (All p values < 0.05). The participants walked with increased stride length and decreased cadence during neck level as compared to waist and chest level. They also showed increased ankle ROM and decreased hip ROM as the water depth rose from waist and chest to the neck level. However, our study found no significant difference between waist and chest level water in all variables. Hydrodynamics, such as buoyancy and drag force, in response to changes in water depths, can affect gait patterns during aquatic treadmill walking.
aquatic gait analysis; water immersion; gait biomechanics; joint kinematics