Economy, Movement Dynamics, and Muscle Activity of Human Walking at Different Speeds

Peter Christian Raffalt, Martin Kjær Guul, A. N. Nielsen, Sadasivan Puthusserypady, T. Alkjær

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The complex behaviour of human walking with respect to movement variability, economy and muscle activity is speed dependent. It is well known that a U-shaped relationship between walking speed and economy exists. However, it is an open question if the movement dynamics of joint angles and centre of mass and muscle activation strategy also exhibit a U-shaped relationship with walking speed. We investigated the dynamics of joint angle trajectories and the centre of mass accelerations at five different speeds ranging from 20 to 180% of the predicted preferred speed (based on Froude speed) in twelve healthy males. The muscle activation strategy and walking economy were also assessed. The movement dynamics was investigated using a combination of the largest Lyapunov exponent and correlation dimension. We observed an intermediate stage of the movement dynamics of the knee joint angle and the anterior-posterior and mediolateral centre of mass accelerations which coincided with the most energy-efficient walking speed. Furthermore, the dynamics of the joint angle trajectories and the muscle activation strategy was closely linked to the functional role and biomechanical constraints of the joints.
Original languageEnglish
Article number43986
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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