Gait transitions in simulated reduced gravity

Yuri P. Ivanenko, Francesca Sylos Labini, Germana Cappellini, Velio Macellari, Joseph McIntyre, Francesco Lacquaniti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ivanenko YP, Sylos Labini F, Cappellini G, Macellari V, McIntyre J, Lacquaniti F. Gait transitions in simulated reduced gravity. J Appl Physiol 110: 781-788, 2011. First published January 6, 2011; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00799. 2010.-Gravity has a strong effect on gait and the speed of gait transitions. A gait has been defined as a pattern of locomotion that changes discontinuously at the transition to another gait. On Earth, during gradual speed changes, humans exhibit a sudden discontinuous switch from walking to running at a specific speed. To study the effects of altered gravity on both the stance and swing legs, we developed a novel unloading exoskeleton that allows a person to step in simulated reduced gravity by tilting the body relative to the vertical. Using different simulation techniques, we confirmed that at lower gravity levels the transition speed is slower (in accordance with the previously reported Froude number ̃0.5). Surprisingly, however, we found that at lower levels of simulated gravity the transition between walking and running was generally gradual, without any noticeable abrupt change in gait parameters. This was associated with a significant prolongation of the swing phase, whose duration became virtually equal to that of stance in the vicinity of the walk-run transition speed, and with a gradual shift from inverted-pendulum gait (walking) to bouncing gait (running).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011


  • Dynamic similarity theory
  • Human locomotion
  • Kinematics
  • Limb loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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