The effects of sloped surfaces on locomotion: a kinematic and kinetic analysis

J Biomech. 2006;39(9):1621-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.05.005. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


Previous findings from studies of demanding tasks in humans and slope walking in quadrupeds suggest that human slope walking may require specialized neural control strategies. The goal of this investigation was to gain insight into these strategies by quantifying lower limb kinematics and kinetics during up- and downslope walking. Nine healthy volunteers walked at a self-selected speed on an instrumented ramp at each of five grades (-39%, -15%, 0%, +15%, +39%; or -21 degrees, -8.5 degrees, 0 degrees, +8.5 degrees, +21 degrees, respectively). For each subject, the selected speed was maintained at all grades to minimize the effect of speed on gait dynamics. Points of interest were identified in the kinematic and kinetic outcome measures and compared across grades; a significant grade effect was found for all points except the magnitude of the peak hip extensor moment during late stance. Kinematic postural changes were consistent with the need to raise the limb for toe clearance and heel strike and to lift the body during upslope walking, and to control the descent of the body during downslope walking. The support moment increased significantly during both upslope and downslope walking compared to level: the increases were predominantly due to the increasing hip extensor moment during upslope walking, and to the increasing knee extensor moment during downslope walking. In addition, the hip and knee joint moment patterns showed significant differences from the patterns observed during level walking. This non-uniform distribution of joint moment increases during up- and downslope walking compared to level walking suggests that these three tasks are not governed by the same control strategy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Joints
  • Kinetics
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / physiology