Arthritis & exercise

Kinematic motion analysis of the joints of the forelimbs and hind limbs of dogs during walking exercise regimens
Peter J. Holler, Mag med vet; Verena Brazda, Mag med vet; Barbara Dal-Bianco, Mag med vet; Elisabeth Lewy, DVM; Marion C. Mueller, DVM; Christian Peham, Dr techn; Barbara A. Bockstahler, DVM
Project Group Dog, Movement Science Group Vienna, Clinical Department of Small Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine, A 1210 Vienna, Austria. (Holler, Brazda, Dal-Bianco, Lewy, Mueller); Project Group Dog, Movement Science Group Vienna, Section for Physiotherapy and Acupuncture Clinic for Surgery and Ophthalmology, Clinical Department of Small Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine, A  1210 Vienna, Austria. (Peham, Bockstahler)
Address correspondence to Mr. Holler (

Objective”To assess forelimbs and hind limb joint kinematics in dogs during walking on an inclined slope (uphill), on a declined slope (downhill), or over low obstacles (cavaletti) on a horizontal surface and compare findings with data acquired during unimpeded walking on a horizontal surface.

Animals”8 nonlame dogs (mean ± SD age, 3.4 ± 2.0 years; weight, 23.6 ± 4.6 kg).

Procedures”By use of 10 high-speed cameras and 10 reflecting markers located on the left forelimbs and hind limbs, joint kinematics were recorded for each dog during uphill walking, downhill walking, and walking over low obstacles or unimpeded on a horizontal surface. Each exercise was recorded 6 times (10 s/cycle); joint angulations, angle velocities and accelerations, and range of motion for shoulder, elbow, carpal, hip, stifle, and tarsal joints were calculated for comparison.

Results”Compared with unimpeded walking, obstacle exercise significantly increased flexion of the elbow, carpal, stifle, and tarsal joints and extension in the carpal and stifle joints. Only uphill walking caused increased hip joint flexion and decreased stifle joint flexion; downhill walking caused less flexion of the hip joint. During obstacle exercise, forward angle velocities in the elbow and stifle joints and retrograde velocity in the tarsal joint changed significantly, compared with unimpeded walking. Joint angle acceleration of the elbow joint changed significantly during all 3 evaluated exercises.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance”These evidence-based data indicated that each evaluated exercise, except for downhill walking, has a specific therapeutic value in physical therapy for dogs.

July 2010, Vol. 71, No. 7, Pages 734-740
doi: 10.2460/ajvr.71.7.734