Resonant frequencies of arms and legs identify different walking patterns

J Biomech. 2000 Jul;33(7):853-61. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(00)00020-8.


The present study is aimed at investigating changes in the coordination of arm and leg movements in young healthy subjects. It was hypothesized that with changes in walking velocity there is a change in frequency and phase coupling between the arms and the legs. In addition, it was hypothesized that the preferred frequencies of the different coordination patterns can be predicted on the basis of the resonant frequencies of arms and legs with a simple pendulum model. The kinematics of arms and legs during treadmill walking in seven healthy subjects were recorded with accelerometers in the sagittal plane at a wide range of different velocities (i.e., 0.3-1. 3m/s). Power spectral analyses revealed a statistically significant change in the frequency relation between arms and legs, i.e., within the velocity range 0.3-0.7m/s arm movement frequencies were dominantly synchronized with the step frequency, whereas from 0.8m/s onwards arm frequencies were locked onto stride frequency. Significant effects of walking speed on mean relative phase between leg and arm movements were found. All limb pairs showed a significantly more stable coordination pattern from 0.8 to 1.0m/s onwards. Results from the pendulum modelling demonstrated that for most subjects at low-velocity preferred movement frequencies of the arms are predicted by the resonant frequencies of individual arms (about 0.98Hz), whereas at higher velocities these are predicted on the basis of the resonant frequencies of the individual legs (about 0.85Hz). The results support the above-mentioned hypotheses, and suggest that different patterns of coordination, as shown by changes in frequency coupling and phase relations, can exist within the human walking mode.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Oscillometry
  • Walking / physiology*