Much is still unknown about walking stability, including which aspects of gait contribute to higher stability. Walking stability appears to be related to walking speed, although the exact relationship is unclear. As walking speed decreases, the double support (DS) period of gait increases both in time and as a percentage of the gait cycle. Because humans have more control over their center of mass movement during DS, increasing DS duration may alter stability. This study examined how human gait is affected by changing DS percentage independent of walking speed. Sixteen young, healthy adults walked on a treadmill at a single speed for six one-minute trials. These trials included normal gait as well as longer- and shorter-than-normal DS percentage gaits. Subjects were consistently able to decrease DS percentage but had difficulty increasing DS percentage. In some cases, subjects altered their cadence when changing DS percentage, particularly when attempting to increase DS percentage. The changes to gait when decreasing DS percentage were similar to changes when increasing walking speed but occurred mainly during the swing period. These changes include increased hip and knee flexion during the swing period, increased swing foot height, and larger magnitude peaks in ground reaction forces. The changes in gait when attempting to increase DS percentage trended toward changes when decreasing walking speed. Altering DS percentage induced gait changes that were similar to, yet clearly distinct from, gait changes due to walking speed. Further, the difficulty of increasing DS percentage when walking at a constant speed suggests that people walk more slowly when they want to increase time spent in DS.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering