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J Biomech. 2004 Jun;37(6):817-25.

Muscle mechanical work requirements during normal walking: the energetic cost of raising the body's center-of-mass is significant.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Inverted pendulum models of walking predict that little muscle work is required for the exchange of body potential and kinetic energy in single-limb support. External power during walking (product of the measured ground reaction force and body center-of-mass (COM) velocity) is often analyzed to deduce net work output or mechanical energetic cost by muscles. Based on external power analyses and inverted pendulum theory, it has been suggested that a primary mechanical energetic cost may be associated with the mechanical work required to redirect the COM motion at the step-to-step transition. However, these models do not capture the multi-muscle, multi-segmental properties of walking, co-excitation of muscles to coordinate segmental energetic flow, and simultaneous production of positive and negative muscle work. In this study, a muscle-actuated forward dynamic simulation of walking was used to assess whether: (1). potential and kinetic energy of the body are exchanged with little muscle work; (2). external mechanical power can estimate the mechanical energetic cost for muscles; and (3.) the net work output and the mechanical energetic cost for muscles occurs mostly in double support. We found that the net work output by muscles cannot be estimated from external power and was the highest when the COM moved upward in early single-limb support even though kinetic and potential energy were exchanged, and muscle mechanical (and most likely metabolic) energetic cost is dominated not only by the need to redirect the COM in double support but also by the need to raise the COM in single support.

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