The role of plantigrady and heel-strike in the mechanics and energetics of human walking with implications for the evolution of the human foot

James T. Webber, David A Raichlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human bipedal locomotion is characterized by a habitual heel-strike (HS) plantigrade gait, yet the significance of walking foot-posture is not well understood. To date, researchers have not fully investigated the costs of non-heel-strike (NHS) walking. Therefore, we examined walking speed, walk-to-run transition speed, estimated locomotor costs (lower limb muscle volume activated during walking), impact transient (rapid increase in ground force at touchdown) and effective limb length (ELL) in subjects (n=14) who walked at self-selected speeds using HS and NHS gaits. HS walking increases ELL compared with NHS walking since the center of pressure translates anteriorly from heel touchdown to toe-off. NHS gaits led to decreased absolute walking speeds (P=0.012) and walk-to-run transition speeds (P=0.0025), and increased estimated locomotor energy costs (P<0.0001) compared with HS gaits. These differences lost significance after using the dynamic similarity hypothesis to account for the effects of foot landing posture on ELL. Thus, reduced locomotor costs and increased maximum walking speeds in HS gaits are linked to the increased ELL compared with NHS gaits. However, HS walking significantly increases impact transient values at all speeds (P<0.0001). These trade-offs may be key to understanding the functional benefits of HS walking. Given the current debate over the locomotor mechanics of early hominins and the range of foot landing postures used by nonhuman apes, we suggest the consistent use of HS gaits provides key locomotor advantages to striding bipeds and may have appeared early in hominin evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3729-3737
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume219
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Fingerprint

Heel
walking
Mechanics
mechanics
Walking
Foot
energetics
Gait
gait
limbs (animal)
limb
Hominidae
Extremities
posture
Posture
Costs and Cost Analysis
cost
Toes
Locomotion
locomotion

Keywords

  • Australopithecus sediba
  • Bipedalism
  • Heel-strike
  • Homo floresiensis
  • Limb length
  • Locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Molecular Biology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Insect Science

Cite this

@article{3fa8312402f64fbda68803b4ba2e4a00,
title = "The role of plantigrady and heel-strike in the mechanics and energetics of human walking with implications for the evolution of the human foot",
abstract = "Human bipedal locomotion is characterized by a habitual heel-strike (HS) plantigrade gait, yet the significance of walking foot-posture is not well understood. To date, researchers have not fully investigated the costs of non-heel-strike (NHS) walking. Therefore, we examined walking speed, walk-to-run transition speed, estimated locomotor costs (lower limb muscle volume activated during walking), impact transient (rapid increase in ground force at touchdown) and effective limb length (ELL) in subjects (n=14) who walked at self-selected speeds using HS and NHS gaits. HS walking increases ELL compared with NHS walking since the center of pressure translates anteriorly from heel touchdown to toe-off. NHS gaits led to decreased absolute walking speeds (P=0.012) and walk-to-run transition speeds (P=0.0025), and increased estimated locomotor energy costs (P<0.0001) compared with HS gaits. These differences lost significance after using the dynamic similarity hypothesis to account for the effects of foot landing posture on ELL. Thus, reduced locomotor costs and increased maximum walking speeds in HS gaits are linked to the increased ELL compared with NHS gaits. However, HS walking significantly increases impact transient values at all speeds (P<0.0001). These trade-offs may be key to understanding the functional benefits of HS walking. Given the current debate over the locomotor mechanics of early hominins and the range of foot landing postures used by nonhuman apes, we suggest the consistent use of HS gaits provides key locomotor advantages to striding bipeds and may have appeared early in hominin evolution.",
keywords = "Australopithecus sediba, Bipedalism, Heel-strike, Homo floresiensis, Limb length, Locomotion",
author = "Webber, {James T.} and Raichlen, {David A}",
year = "2016",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1242/jeb.138610",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "219",
pages = "3729--3737",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Biology",
issn = "0022-0949",
publisher = "Company of Biologists Ltd",
number = "23",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The role of plantigrady and heel-strike in the mechanics and energetics of human walking with implications for the evolution of the human foot

AU - Webber, James T.

AU - Raichlen, David A

PY - 2016/12/1

Y1 - 2016/12/1

N2 - Human bipedal locomotion is characterized by a habitual heel-strike (HS) plantigrade gait, yet the significance of walking foot-posture is not well understood. To date, researchers have not fully investigated the costs of non-heel-strike (NHS) walking. Therefore, we examined walking speed, walk-to-run transition speed, estimated locomotor costs (lower limb muscle volume activated during walking), impact transient (rapid increase in ground force at touchdown) and effective limb length (ELL) in subjects (n=14) who walked at self-selected speeds using HS and NHS gaits. HS walking increases ELL compared with NHS walking since the center of pressure translates anteriorly from heel touchdown to toe-off. NHS gaits led to decreased absolute walking speeds (P=0.012) and walk-to-run transition speeds (P=0.0025), and increased estimated locomotor energy costs (P<0.0001) compared with HS gaits. These differences lost significance after using the dynamic similarity hypothesis to account for the effects of foot landing posture on ELL. Thus, reduced locomotor costs and increased maximum walking speeds in HS gaits are linked to the increased ELL compared with NHS gaits. However, HS walking significantly increases impact transient values at all speeds (P<0.0001). These trade-offs may be key to understanding the functional benefits of HS walking. Given the current debate over the locomotor mechanics of early hominins and the range of foot landing postures used by nonhuman apes, we suggest the consistent use of HS gaits provides key locomotor advantages to striding bipeds and may have appeared early in hominin evolution.

AB - Human bipedal locomotion is characterized by a habitual heel-strike (HS) plantigrade gait, yet the significance of walking foot-posture is not well understood. To date, researchers have not fully investigated the costs of non-heel-strike (NHS) walking. Therefore, we examined walking speed, walk-to-run transition speed, estimated locomotor costs (lower limb muscle volume activated during walking), impact transient (rapid increase in ground force at touchdown) and effective limb length (ELL) in subjects (n=14) who walked at self-selected speeds using HS and NHS gaits. HS walking increases ELL compared with NHS walking since the center of pressure translates anteriorly from heel touchdown to toe-off. NHS gaits led to decreased absolute walking speeds (P=0.012) and walk-to-run transition speeds (P=0.0025), and increased estimated locomotor energy costs (P<0.0001) compared with HS gaits. These differences lost significance after using the dynamic similarity hypothesis to account for the effects of foot landing posture on ELL. Thus, reduced locomotor costs and increased maximum walking speeds in HS gaits are linked to the increased ELL compared with NHS gaits. However, HS walking significantly increases impact transient values at all speeds (P<0.0001). These trade-offs may be key to understanding the functional benefits of HS walking. Given the current debate over the locomotor mechanics of early hominins and the range of foot landing postures used by nonhuman apes, we suggest the consistent use of HS gaits provides key locomotor advantages to striding bipeds and may have appeared early in hominin evolution.

KW - Australopithecus sediba

KW - Bipedalism

KW - Heel-strike

KW - Homo floresiensis

KW - Limb length

KW - Locomotion

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85000963008&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85000963008&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1242/jeb.138610

DO - 10.1242/jeb.138610

M3 - Article

C2 - 27903628

AN - SCOPUS:85000963008

VL - 219

SP - 3729

EP - 3737

JO - Journal of Experimental Biology

JF - Journal of Experimental Biology

SN - 0022-0949

IS - 23

ER -