Dynamic optimization of human walking

J Biomech Eng. 2001 Oct;123(5):381-90. doi: 10.1115/1.1392310.


A three-dimensional, neuromusculoskeletal model of the body was combined with dynamic optimization theory to simulate normal walking on level ground. The body was modeled as a 23 degree-of-freedom mechanical linkage, actuated by 54 muscles. The dynamic optimization problem was to calculate the muscle excitation histories, muscle forces, and limb motions subject to minimum metabolic energy expenditure per unit distance traveled. Muscle metabolic energy was calculated by slimming five terms: the basal or resting heat, activation heat, maintenance heat, shortening heat, and the mechanical work done by all the muscles in the model. The gait cycle was assumed to be symmetric; that is, the muscle excitations for the right and left legs and the initial and terminal states in the model were assumed to be equal. Importantly, a tracking problem was not solved. Rather only a set of terminal constraints was placed on the states of the model to enforce repeatability of the gait cycle. Quantitative comparisons of the model predictions with patterns of body-segmental displacements, ground-reaction forces, and muscle activations obtained from experiment show that the simulation reproduces the salient features of normal gait. The simulation results suggest that minimum metabolic energy per unit distance traveled is a valid measure of walking performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electromyography
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena
  • Musculoskeletal System / anatomy & histology
  • Walking / physiology*