Acceleration patterns of the head and pelvis when walking on level and irregular surfaces

Gait Posture. 2003 Aug;18(1):35-46. doi: 10.1016/s0966-6362(02)00159-5.


The aim of this study was to evaluate acceleration patterns at the head and pelvis while subjects walked on a level and an irregular walking surface, to develop an understanding of how the postural control system responds to challenging walking conditions. Thirty young, healthy subjects walked on a level corridor and on artificial grass underlain with foam and wooden blocks placed in an arbitrary manner. Temporo-spatial gait parameters and acceleration patterns at the head and pelvis were measured. The results revealed that when walking on the irregular surface, subjects were able to maintain their velocity, but adopted a slower and more variable cadence and a significantly longer stride length. The magnitude of pelvis accelerations increased, however head accelerations were not affected by the walking surface. When considered as an overall pattern of movement, these findings suggest that one of the primary objectives of the postural control system when walking on irregular surfaces is head control, and that subjects adapt their stepping pattern on irregular surfaces to ensure that the head remains stable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*