The timing of locomotor propulsion in healthy adults walking at multiple speeds

Academic Article


  • In computational models of human walking, both magnitude and timing of locomotor propulsion are important for mechanical and metabolic efficiency, suggesting that these are likely tightly controlled by the neuromuscular system. Studies of actual human walking have focused primarily on magnitude-related measures of propulsion, often ignoring its timing. The purpose of this study was to quantify the timing of onset and peak propulsion relative to contralateral heel strike (HS) in healthy, young adults walking at multiple speeds. Propulsion was quantified at the ground-level using the anterior component of the anteroposterior ground reaction force, the limb-level using individual limb power, and the joint-level using ankle power. Contrary to common computational models, most of our timing-related measures indicated that propulsion occurred after contralateral HS. Timing-related measures of propulsion also changed with walking speed – as speed increased, individuals initiated propulsion earlier in the support phase. Timing of locomotor propulsion is theoretically important for walking performance, especially metabolic efficiency, and could therefore provide important clinical information. This study provides a set of relatively simple metrics that can be used to quantify propulsion and benchmark data that can be used for future comparisons with individuals or populations with gait impairments.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kuhman D; Hurt CP
  • Volume

  • 68