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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 1992;2(4):203-16. doi: 10.1016/1050-6411(92)90024-D.

Calf muscle work and segment energy changes in human treadmill walking.

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Laboratory of Medical Physics, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


The relation between changes in potential and kinetic energy in a seven-segment model of the human body and the work of m. triceps surae was investigated in four subjects walking on a treadmill at speeds between 0.5 and 2.0 m/s. Segment energy levels were determined by means of tachometers attached with strings to various points on the subject's body. Muscle work was assessed by electromyogram to force processing. M. triceps surae is active during stance, first doing negative (eccentric) work and ending with a short period of positive (concentric) work at "push-off". It turned out that in normal walking these muscles provide the major part of positive work for the initiation of swing at push-off. Only at large step lengths, when push-off starts well before contralateral heel contact, is there a minor pushing forward of the trunk. In the negative work phase, m. triceps surae seem to check the forward speed of the trunk. A related decrease of trunk kinetic energy is not present, however, but this may be obscured by the simultaneous action of m. quadriceps femoris and, in a later stage, by a transfer of energy from the decelerating contralateral (swing) leg to the trunk. Energy of the trunk segment shows a sharp decline in double stance and a more gradual increase in the first half of single stance. Evidence is given that this effect is due to quadriceps action in the knee flexion-extension movement during stance. The presented results are incorporated in a general picture of energy flows in human walking.

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