Predicting the energy cost of terrestrial locomotion: a test of the LiMb model in humans and quadrupeds

Washington University, 119 McMillan Hall, St Louis, MO 63130, USA.
Journal of Experimental Biology (Impact Factor: 3). 03/2007; 210(Pt 3):484-94. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02662
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The energy cost of terrestrial locomotion has been linked to the muscle forces generated to support body weight and swing the limbs. The LiMb model predicts these forces, and hence locomotor cost, as a function of limb length and basic kinematic variables. Here, I test this model in humans, goats and dogs in order to assess the performance of the LiMb model in predicting locomotor cost for bipeds and quadrupeds. Model predictions were compared to observed locomotor cost, measured via oxygen consumption, during treadmill trials performed over a range of speeds for both walking and running gaits. The LiMb model explained more of the variation in locomotor cost than other predictors, including contact time, Froude number and body mass. The LiMb model also accurately predicted the magnitude of vertical ground forces. Results suggest the LiMb model reliably links locomotor anatomy to force production and locomotor cost. Further, these data support the idea that limb length may underlie the scaling of locomotor cost for terrestrial animals.

Download full-text


Available from: Herman Pontzer, Jun 27, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background. Although walking has been extensively investigated in its biomechanical and physiological aspects, little is known on whether lower limb length and body proportions affect the energy cost of overground walking in older persons. Methods. We enrolled 50 men and 12 women aged 65 years and over, mean 69.1 ± SD 5.4, who at the end of their cardiac rehabilitation program performed the six-minute walk test while wearing a portable device for direct calorimetry and who walked a distance comparable to that of nondisabled community-dwelling older persons. Results. In the multivariable regression model (F = 12.75, P < 0.001, adjusted R(2) = 0.278) the energy cost of overground walking, expressed as the net energy expenditure, in kg(-1) sec(-1), needed to provide own body mass with 1 joule kinetic energy, was inversely related to lower limb length and directly related to lower limb length to height ratio (β ± SE(β) = -3.72∗10(-3) ± 0.74∗10(-3), P < 0.001, and 6.61∗10(-3) ± 2.14∗10(-3), P = 0.003, resp.). Ancillary analyses also showed that, altogether, 1 cm increase in lower limb length reduced the energy cost of overground walking by 2.57% (95%CI 2.35-2.79). Conclusions. Lower limb length and body proportions actually affect the energy cost of overground walking in older persons.
    06/2014; 2014:318204. DOI:10.1155/2014/318204
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Compared with other species, humans can be very tractable and thus an ideal "model system" for investigating the metabolic cost of locomotion. Here, we review the biomechanical basis for the metabolic cost of running. Running has been historically modeled as a simple spring-mass system whereby the leg acts as a linear spring, storing, and returning elastic potential energy during stance. However, if running can be modeled as a simple spring-mass system with the underlying assumption of perfect elastic energy storage and return, why does running incur a metabolic cost at all? In 1980, Taylor et al. proposed the "cost of generating force" hypothesis, which was based on the idea that elastic structures allow the muscles to transform metabolic energy into force, and not necessarily mechanical work. In 1990, Kram and Taylor then provided a more explicit and quantitative explanation by demonstrating that the rate of metabolic energy consumption is proportional to body weight and inversely proportional to the time of foot-ground contact for a variety of animals ranging in size and running speed. With a focus on humans, Kram and his colleagues then adopted a task-by-task approach and initially found that the metabolic cost of running could be "individually" partitioned into body weight support (74%), propulsion (37%), and leg-swing (20%). Summing all these biomechanical tasks leads to a paradoxical overestimation of 131%. To further elucidate the possible interactions between these tasks, later studies quantified the reductions in metabolic cost in response to synergistic combinations of body weight support, aiding horizontal forces, and leg-swing-assist forces. This synergistic approach revealed that the interactive nature of body weight support and forward propulsion comprises ∼80% of the net metabolic cost of running. The task of leg-swing at most comprises ∼7% of the net metabolic cost of running and is independent of body weight support and forward propulsion. In our recent experiments, we have continued to refine this task-by-task approach, demonstrating that maintaining lateral balance comprises only 2% of the net metabolic cost of running. In contrast, arm-swing reduces the cost by ∼3%, indicating a net metabolic benefit. Thus, by considering the synergistic nature of body weight support and forward propulsion, as well as the tasks of leg-swing and lateral balance, we can account for 89% of the net metabolic cost of human running.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 05/2014; DOI:10.1093/icb/icu033 · 2.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Researchers have long debated the locomotor posture used by the earliest bipeds. While many agree that by 3-4 Ma (millions of years ago), hominins walked with an extended-limb human style of bipedalism, researchers are still divided over whether the earliest bipeds walked like modern humans, or walked with a more bent-knee, bent-hip (BKBH) ape-like form of locomotion. Since more flexed postures are associated with higher energy costs, reconstructing early bipedal mechanics has implications for the selection pressures that led to upright walking. The purpose of this study is to determine how modern human anatomy functions in BKBH walking to clarify the links between morphology and energy costs in different mechanical regimes. Using inverse dynamics, we calculated muscle force production at the major limb joints in humans walking in two modes, both with extended limbs and BKBH. We found that in BKBH walking, humans must produce large muscle forces at the knee to support body weight, leading to higher estimated energy costs. However, muscle forces at the hip remained similar in BKBH and extended limb walking, suggesting that anatomical adaptations for hip extension in humans do not necessarily diminish the effective mechanical advantage at the hip in more flexed postures. We conclude that the key adaptations for economical walking, regardless of joint posture, seem to center on maintaining low muscle forces at the hip, primarily by keeping low external moments at the hip. We explore the implications of these results for interpreting locomotor energetics in early hominins, including australopithecines and Ardipithecus ramidus.
    Journal of Human Evolution 08/2013; 65(3). DOI:10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.06.012 · 3.87 Impact Factor