(HealthDay News) — Exercises to strengthen the hips may ease calf pain for people with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a new study suggests. The findings were to be presented Thursday at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/Peripheral Vascular Disease 2015 Scientific Sessions, held from May 7 to 9 in San Francisco.
Takaaki Kakihana, P.T., of the Tohoku Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, and colleagues used a three-dimensional motion analysis system to compare the walking patterns of seven healthy people to those of 16 older people with moderate PAD. Their average age was 71, and they had moderately blocked arteries and pain in at least one leg.
The researchers found that those with PAD had abnormal walking patterns. Specifically, when compared to the healthy participants, those with clogged leg arteries: walked more slowly — even when trying to walk quickly; took smaller steps at both walking speeds; used their hip flexor muscles less when “pushing-off” for each step; and used their ankle flexor muscles more during the “push-off” for each step.
“PAD patients should ask for an expert, such as a physical therapist, to evaluate their gait and the strength of their hip flexors and other muscles,” Kakihana said in an American Heart Association news release. “Based on the evaluation, a combination of muscle training and walking exercise may increase how far they can walk and reduce their calf pain during walking.”