Spatial, temporal and muscle action patterns of Tai Chi gait

Ge Wu, Wei Liu, Juvena Hitt, Debra Millon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


This study was to quantitatively characterize the spatial, temporal, and neuromuscular activation patterns of Tai Chi gait (TCG). Ten healthy young subjects were tested. The kinematics of TCG and normal gait (NG) were measured using a marker-based motion analysis system and two biomechanical force plates. Surface electromyography (EMG) was recorded from six left-side muscles: tibialis anterior, soleus, peronaeus longus, rectus femoris, semitendinosus, and tensor fasciae latae. The results showed that TCG had (1) a longer cycle duration (11.9±2.4 vs. 1.3±0.2 s) and a longer duration of single-leg stance time (1.8±0.6 vs. 0.4±0.05 s); (2) a larger joint motion in ankle dorsi/plantar flexion (40±9°vs. 20±8°), knee flexion (82±8°vs. 53±10°), hip flexion (81±7°vs. 24±4°), and hip abduction (20±8°vs. 0±3°); (3) a larger lateral body shift (>25% vs. 5% body height); and (4) significant involvement of ankle dorsiflexors, knee extensors/hip flexors and hip abductors, as indicated by significantly higher peak (88±14%, 80±18% and 83±17% vs. 35±10%, 14±8% and 28±19% peak amplitude, respectively) and root-mean-square values of their EMG (37±6%, 32±7% and 33±7% vs. 23±7%, 11±8% and 22±11% peak amplitude, respectively), longer proportions of action (76±19%, 68±8% and 65±19% vs. 59±23%, 16±23% and 40±32% gait cycle duration, respectively), longer proportions of isometric and eccentric actions, and longer proportions of co-activations. These results demonstrate that the biomechanical characteristics of TCG can be quantified. The quantification of TCC movements is important for understanding its effect on balance, flexibility, strength, and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-354
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Gait
  • Kinematics
  • Muscle action
  • Tai chi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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