Differences in muscle function during walking and running at the same speed

J Biomech. 2006;39(11):2005-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.06.019. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Individual muscle contributions to body segment mechanical energetics and the functional tasks of body support and forward propulsion in walking and running at the same speed were quantified using forward dynamical simulations to elucidate differences in muscle function between the two different gait modes. Simulations that emulated experimentally measured kinesiological data of young adults walking and running at the preferred walk-to-run transition speed revealed that muscles use similar biomechanical mechanisms to provide support and forward propulsion during the two tasks. The primary exception was a decreased contribution of the soleus to forward propulsion in running, which was previously found to be significant in walking. In addition, the soleus distributed its mechanical power differently to individual body segments between the two gait modes from mid- to late stance. In walking, the soleus transferred mechanical energy from the leg to the trunk to provide support, but in running it delivered energy to both the leg and trunk. In running, earlier soleus excitation resulted in it working in synergy with the hip and knee extensors near mid-stance to provide the vertical acceleration for the subsequent flight phase in running. In addition, greater power output was produced by the soleus and hip and knee extensors in running. All other muscle groups distributed mechanical power among the body segments and provided support and forward propulsion in a qualitatively similar manner in both walking and running.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology*