Individual characteristics of human walking mechanics

L. Bianchi, D. Angelini, F. Lacquaniti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Twenty-four subjects walked at different speeds (V) from 0.4 to 2.6 m s-1, while motion and ground reaction forces were recorded in 3-D space. The total mechanical energy of each body segment was computed as the sum of the gravitational potential, translation and rotation kinetic energies. Energy profiles reveal that there are inter-individual differences, particularly at moderate and fast V. In some subjects, the energy excursions are less pronounced, and tend to evolve out of phase at the lower limbs and trunk. As a consequence, there is a better transfer of energy between the trunk and the leg segments, resulting in smaller oscillations of the net energy of the whole body. There is a threefold variation of the rate of increment of lnP(u) (the mass-specific mean absolute power) with lnV across subjects. We show that this variability cannot be simply explained on the basis of the different biomechanical characteristics of the subjects, but that it depends on the different kinematic strategies. Subjects differ in their ability to minimize energy oscillations of their body segments and to transfer mechanical energy between the trunk and the limbs. Individual characteristics of the mechanical energy expenditure were correlated with the corresponding kinematic characteristics. The changes of the elevation angles of the lower limb segments covary along a plane in all subjects. Plane orientation (quantified by the direction cosine of the normal with the thigh axis, u(3t)) at any V is not the same in all subjects, but correlates with the net power output: smaller values of u(3t) tend to be associated with smaller values of P(u), and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-356
Number of pages14
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Volume436
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Fingerprint

Energy Transfer
Mechanics
Biomechanical Phenomena
Walking
Lower Extremity
Kinematics
Aptitude
Thigh
Individuality
Kinetic energy
Energy Metabolism
Leg
Extremities
Direction compound
Power (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Energetics
  • Gait
  • Kinematics
  • Locomotion
  • Man
  • Mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this

Individual characteristics of human walking mechanics. / Bianchi, L.; Angelini, D.; Lacquaniti, F.

In: Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology, Vol. 436, No. 3, 1998, p. 343-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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