Comparison of lower limb muscle activation during downhill, level and uphill running

Zong Y. Cai, Cheng Chen Hsu, Chin Peng Su, Chin F. Lin, Yi A. Lin, Chin L. Lin, Mei Chich Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We compared the lower limb muscle activation during uphill running (UR), level running (LR), and downhill running (DR). Eight male physically active subjects ran three slopes for 30 min at the given speed (55% vVO2peak at LR), including DR (-6°), LR (0°), and UR (6°) in a random crossover, repeated measures design. Electromyographic (EMG) signals were collected from the dominated lower limb muscles: rectus femoris (RF), biceps femoris (BF), gastrocnemius (GAS), soleus, and tibialis anterior. Our results showed that greater EMG of RF was found with inclining slope (UR>LR>DR, p<0.05); EMG of BF was greater during UR than during DR (p<0.05); EMG of GAS differed significantly in the order: UR>DR>LR (p<0.05). We concluded that significant differences regarding muscle activations among DR, LR, and UR were observed for the RF, BF, and GAS, especially when running opposing slopes (DR vs. UR). Additionally, when running toward uphill, the propulsive muscles, such as the RF and GAS seemed to exert more effort. In contrast, while running toward downhill, RF might work as an extensor muscle that was activated to a lesser extent, possibly due to its undergoing eccentric movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalIsokinetics and Exercise Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • eccentric exercise
  • electromyography
  • incline
  • Slope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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