Factors contributing to racial differences in gait mechanics differ by sex.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Racial differences in gait mechanics have been recently reported, but we don't know what factors may drive differences in gait and whether these factors are innate or modifiable. The answers to those questions will inform both basic research and clinical interventions and outcomes.

Research question

Do anthropometric, strength, and health status measures explain racial differences in gait between African Americans (AA) and white Americans (WA)?


Venous blood samples, anthropometric measures, lower extremity strength, and an assessment of health status were collected from 92 participants (18-30 years old) as part of an Institutional Review Board-approved study. 3D motion capture and force plate data were recorded during 7 walking trials at set regular (1.35 m/s) and fast (1.6 m/s) speeds. Racial differences in gait were identified at both speeds. Correlations between anthropometric, strength, and health status independent variables and outcome measures were computed after stratifying data by sex. Stepwise linear regression models evaluated whether the inclusion of anthropometric, strength, and health status independent variables explained racial effects.


In males, no racial differences in gait were explained by independent variables. Q-angle and ankle dorsiflexion strength accounted for racial differences in self-selected walking speed in females. Racial differences in ankle plantarflexion angle were explained by ankle plantarflexion strength differences.


Factors that explain racial differences in gait in females were both innate and modifiable. These data make clear that it is important to include racially diverse normative gait databases in research studies. These results also identify potential intervention targets aimed at reducing racial health disparities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hill, CN; Reed, W; Schmitt, D; Arent, SM; Sands, LP; Queen, RM

Published Date

  • June 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 95 /

Start / End Page

  • 277 - 283

PubMed ID

  • 33658154

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-2219

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0966-6362

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.02.024


  • eng