Coordination of head and trunk accelerations during walking

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Jul;94(4):468-75. doi: 10.1007/s00421-005-1328-1. Epub 2005 Apr 13.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between oscillatory dynamics of the head and trunk in each plane of motion during walking. Head and trunk accelerations of ten healthy subjects (age: 23 +/- 4 years) were measured in the vertical (VT), anterior-posterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) directions using a pair of tri-axial accelerometers. All subjects performed five walking trials along a level 20 m walkway at their preferred gait velocity (1.30 +/- 0.15 m s(-1)). Acceleration data were analysed using power spectral, harmonic and regularity measures. Results indicated that: (1) oscillations of the head were smoother, with a greater proportion of power at lower frequencies than oscillations of the trunk, (2) differences in power spectral properties between the head and trunk were most pronounced in the ML direction, (3) coupling between VT-AP, VT-ML, and AP-ML accelerations were greater for the head than trunk, and (4) for both segments, the weakest coupling was observed for AP-ML acceleration relations. Overall, the results of this study suggest that accelerations of the head are significantly attenuated, and more tightly controlled, compared to accelerations of the lower trunk. This attenuation process was particularly evident for the ML direction, whereby head accelerations showed the greatest differences compared to ML accelerations at the trunk.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Gait
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / physiology*