Postural adaptation to walking on inclined surfaces: I. Normal strategies

Gait Posture. 2002 Feb;15(1):64-74. doi: 10.1016/s0966-6362(01)00181-3.


This study investigated the postural strategies to adapt to uphill and downhill treadmill inclination (0, 5 and 10%) during walking and standing in eight healthy subjects. Increasing the treadmill grade from 0 to 10% induced an increasingly flexed posture of the hip, knee and ankle at initial foot contact as well as a progressive forward tilt of pelvis and trunk. These postural changes were accompanied by a progressive decrease in pelvic lateral drop toward the swinging limb and a gradual increase in stride length as the uphill slope became steeper. Decreasing the treadmill grade from 0 to -10% lead to a decreasingly flexed posture of the hip at initial foot contact as well as an increase in knee flexion during weight acceptance and late stance. These changes were accompanied by a gradual decrease in stride length, a progressive backward tilt of trunk and pelvis and an increase in pelvic lateral drop toward the swinging limb as downhill slope became steeper. Changes in trunk and pelvic postural alignment in the sagittal plane might be used to facilitate power generation or absorption in adapting to slope changes during walking. During quiet standing, however, the trunk and pelvis remained aligned with respect to earth's vertical at any surface inclination. These results showed that postural adaptations are task-specific and the control requirements are different between standing and walking on an inclined surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvis / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Thorax / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*