Introduction: Since pregnant women may have potentially greater difficulty maintaining balance, their stability has been investigated by some researchers. However, there is no consensus considering the results. The purpose of our investigation was to compare all the experimental studies focusing on the analysis of gait that have been conducted over the last years to assess their methodological issues and changes induced by pregnancy. Methods: The PRISMA Guidelines incorporating a risk of bias and strength of recommendations were used as a methodological template for this review. Literature searches were conducted using the following databases: PubMed, Embase, SPORTDiscus, Scopus. After limiting the search to meet the inclusion criteria, 25 articles remained in the final analysis. Results: Some authors emphasised that adaptations due to pregnancy are recognised to provide safety and stability. Thus, they consistently reported reduced walking velocity as a result of lower frequency and smaller length of the steps. Longer contact times were reflected by the shortened peak forces. Plantar loads were redistributed from the rearfoot (decrease) to the midfoot and forefoot (increase) throughout pregnancy. Another adjustment was an increase of base of support to improve lateral gait stability which allows to compensate increased medio-lateral ground reaction force. During the course of pregnancy the increase of anterior body mass and hormonal changes enhance some realignments of the pelvis and lumbar spine. Methodological approaches varied across the included studies. The critical appraisal identified some areas of weaknesses that should be considered for designing the future investigations. Conclusions: Since many gait parameters are interrelated, in order to understand the cause-and-effect relationships an integrative and complete analysis of multiple factors is required.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine