Differences in lower limb transverse plane joint moments during gait when expressed in two alternative reference frames

J Biomech. 2007;40(1):9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.12.003. Epub 2006 Jan 26.


When comparing previous studies that have measured the three-dimensional moments acting about the lower limb joints (either external moments or opposing internal joint moments) during able-bodied adult gait, significant variation is apparent in the profiles of the reported transverse plane moments. This variation cannot be explained on the basis of adopted convention (i.e. external versus internal joint moment) or inherent variability in gait strategies. The aim of the current study was to determine whether in fact the frame in which moments are expressed has a dominant effect upon transverse plane moments and thus provides a valid explanation for the observed inconsistency in the literature. Kinematic and ground reaction force data were acquired from nine able-bodied adult subjects walking at a self-selected speed. Three-dimensional hip, knee and ankle joint moments during gait were calculated using a standard inverse dynamics approach. In addition to calculating internal joint moments, the components of the external moment occurring in the transverse plane at each of the lower limb joints were calculated to determine their independent effects. All moments were expressed in both the laboratory frame (LF) as well as the anatomical frame (AF) of the distal segment. With the exception of the ankle rotation moment in the foot AF, lower limb transverse plane joint moments during gait were found to display characteristic profiles that were consistent across subjects. Furthermore, lower limb transverse plane joint moments during gait differed when expressed in the distal segment AF compared to the LF. At the hip, the two alternative reference frames produced near reciprocal joint moment profiles. The components of the external moment revealed that the external ground reaction force moment was primarily responsible for this result. Lower limb transverse plane joint moments during gait were therefore found to be highly sensitive to a change in reference frame. These findings indicate that the different transverse plane joint moment profiles during able-bodied adult gait reported in the literature are likely to be explained on this basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Rotation