To investigate the metabolic cost and muscular actions required for the initiation and propagation of leg swing, we applied a novel combination of external forces to subjects walking on a treadmill. We applied a forward pulling force at each foot to assist leg swing, a constant forward pulling force at the waist to provide center of mass propulsion, and a combination of these foot and waist forces to evaluate leg swing. When the metabolic cost and muscle actions were at a minimum, the condition was considered optimal. We reasoned that the difference in energy consumption between the optimal combined waist and foot force trial and the optimal waist force-only trial would reflect the metabolic cost of initiating and propagating leg swing during normal walking. We also reasoned that a lower muscle activity with these assisting forces would indicate which muscles are normally responsible for initiating and propagating leg swing. With a propulsive force at the waist of 10% body weight (BW), the net metabolic cost of walking decreased to 58% of normal walking. With the optimal combination, a propulsive force at the waist of 10% BW plus a pulling force at the feet of 3% BW the net metabolic cost of walking further decreased to 48% of normal walking. With the same combination, the muscle activity of the iliopsoas and reclus femoris muscles during the swing phase was 27 and 60% lower, respectively, but the activity of the medial gastrocnemius and soleus before swing did not change. Thus our data indicate that ∼ 10% of the net metabolic cost of walking is required to initiate and propagate teg swing. Additionally, the hip flexor muscles contribute to the initiation and propagation leg swing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)