Individual muscle contributions to support in normal walking

Gait Posture. 2003 Apr;17(2):159-69. doi: 10.1016/s0966-6362(02)00073-5.


The purpose of this study was to quantify the contributions made by individual muscles to support of the whole body during normal gait. A muscle's contribution to support was described by its contribution to the time history of the vertical force exerted by the ground. The analysis was based on a three-dimensional, muscle-actuated model of the body and a dynamic optimization solution for normal walking. The results showed that, in early stance, before the foot was placed flat on the ground, support was provided mainly by the ankle dorsiflexors. After foot-flat, but before contralateral toe-off, support was generated primarily by gluteus maximus, vasti, and posterior gluteus medius/minimus; these muscles were responsible for the first peak seen in the vertical ground-reaction force. The majority of support in midstance was provided by gluteus medius/minimus, with gravity assisting significantly as well. The ankle plantarflexors generated nearly all support in late stance; these muscles were responsible for the second peak in the vertical ground-reaction force. The results showed also that centrifugal forces act to decrease the vertical ground-reaction force, but only by minor amounts, and that resistance of the skeleton to the force of gravity is no larger than 1/2 body weight throughout the gait cycle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Walking / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing