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, 21 (3), 291-305

Backward Walking: A Simple Reversal of Forward Walking?


Backward Walking: A Simple Reversal of Forward Walking?

D A Winter et al. J Mot Behav.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether backward walking represented a simple temporal reversal of forward walking and, hence, could be controlled by a reversed cycling of the same group of neurons. Electromyographic (EMG), joint angle, joint moment, and joint muscle power patterns were compared for forward and backward walking, in 6 subjects. The joint angle patterns with the time-base of the backward walking reversed were similar, with the exception of the ankle. The moment patterns were similar except for the knee, whereas the joint muscle powers were almost reversed-polarity images of each other. This suggests that somewhat similar muscle activation patterns could be used to produce both modes of locomotion, but the temporal cycling of muscle contraction would be reversed: Concentric muscle activity in forward walking would become eccentric activity in backward walking, and visa versa. The EMG results generally supported these findings.

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