What detemines the way that we walk?

Health & Fitness

  • Author Craig Payne
  • Published October 8, 2022
  • Word count 561

A typical walking gait pattern will depend on numerous critical biomechanical functions which are referred to as the determinants of gait. The 6 determinants of gait were introduced by Saunders back in 1953, and still have been broadly embraced with a few alterations along with minor concerns. All the determinants of gait are thought of as essential as they assure a more efficient locomotion via the lowering the up and down center of mass movement leading to a decrease in the metabolic energy needed for movement. The rationale underpinning this is that the greater management of these kinds of determinants of gait results in an increase in energy conservation and more economical motion. The theory which does underpin these determinants of gait are typically in conflict with the ‘inverted pendulum’ model which considers the static stance leg acting as a pendulum which pursues an arc. The biomechanics area continues to debate the worthiness of the two approaches.

The six determinants of gait and how they affect the centre of mass (COM) motion as well as energy preservation are:

  1. Pelvic rotation: The pelvis swivels side to side throughout normal gait to help with the advancement of the opposite side by means of lowered hip flexion and extension. This has an effect on the lowering of metabolic energy along with the increased energy efficiency by reduction of the up and down COM displacement.

  2. Pelvic tilt: During regular gait there's a dipping of the swing phase aspect of the pelvis which is handled by the hip joint abductor muscles. The muscle action decreases the raising of the COM during the changeover from hip flexion to extension. This would lessen the use of metabolic energy and increase energy conservation by reducing vertical COM movement.

  3. Knee flexion during stance phase: The knee joint is extended at heel contact after which starts to flex when the foot is on the ground. This knee flexion will lower the apex with the up and down trajectory with the center of mass contributing to some energy conservation.

  4. Motion in the foot and ankle: The ankle rockers at heel strike and mid-stance leads to a decrease in center of mass displacement via the shortening of the lower leg are likely involved by reduction of the center of mass up and down displacement.

  5. Knee motion: The movement of the knee joint is related to the ones from the ankle and foot movements and leads to the decrease in the center of mass up and down displacement which brings about reductions in the center of mass movement as well as energy cost.

  6. Lateral displacement with the body: this lateral movement of the pelvis or a relative adduction with the hip joint is mediated through the effect of the tibiofemoral angle and relative adduction of the hip to reduce vertical COM movement. It is deemed that this characteristic has a key role in ensuring the proficiency in normal gait.

These six determinants of gait are generally pragmatically appealing as they help us concentrate on a number of key factors to keep the COM motion flat to increase the efficacy of gait. Nonetheless, some current investigations questions whether most or a number of the determinants are really that crucial in the overall system of the functions that happen during the gait cycle. Despite that thinking of these kinds of determinants is key in figuring out gait disability.

For the latest research on the determinants of gait, see


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