Crouched posture maximizes ground reaction forces generated by muscles

Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, & Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2210, USA.
Gait & posture (Impact Factor: 2.75). 04/2012; 36(3):405-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.03.020
Source: PubMed


Crouch gait decreases walking efficiency due to the increased knee and hip flexion during the stance phase of gait. Crouch gait is generally considered to be disadvantageous for children with cerebral palsy; however, a crouched posture may allow biomechanical advantages that lead some children to adopt a crouch gait. To investigate one possible advantage of crouch gait, a musculoskeletal model created in OpenSim was placed in 15 different postures from upright to severe crouch during initial, middle, and final stance of the gait cycle for a total of 45 different postures. A series of optimizations was performed for each posture to maximize transverse plane ground reaction forces in the eight compass directions by modifying muscle forces acting on the model. We compared the force profile areas across all postures. Larger force profile areas were allowed by postures from mild crouch (for initial stance) to crouch (for final stance). The overall ability to generate larger ground reaction force profiles represents a mechanical advantage of a crouched posture. This increase in muscle capacity while in a crouched posture may allow a patient to generate new movements to compensate for impairments associated with cerebral palsy, such as motor control deficits.

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    ABSTRACT: We previously studied balance during lateral load transfers, but were left without explanation of why some individuals were successful in novel low friction conditions and others were not. Here, we retrospectively examined lower extremity kinematics between successful (SL) and unsuccessful (UL) groups to determine what characteristics may improve low friction performance. Success versus failure over a novel slippery surface was used to dichotomise 35 healthy working-age individuals into the two groups (SL and UL). Participants performed lateral load transfers over three sequential surface conditions: high friction, novel low friction, and practiced low friction. The UL group used a wide stance with rotation mostly at the hips during the high and novel low friction conditions. To successfully complete the practiced low friction task, they narrowed their stance and pivoted both feet and torso towards the direction of the load, similar to the SL group in all conditions. This successful kinematic method potentially results in reduced muscle demand throughout the task. Practitioner Summary: The reason for this paper is to retrospectively examine the different load transfer strategies that are used in a low friction lateral load transfer. We found stance width to be the major source of success, while sagittal plane motion was altered to potentially maintain balance.
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