Coordination of leg swing, thorax rotations, and pelvis rotations during gait: the organisation of total body angular momentum

Gait Posture. 2008 Apr;27(3):455-62. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2007.05.017. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


In walking faster than 3 km/h, transverse pelvic rotation lengthens the step ("pelvic step"). It is often assumed that the thorax then starts to counter rotate to limit total body angular momentum around the vertical. But the relative timing of pelvis and thorax rotation during gait is insufficiently understood. The present study aimed at analysing how transverse pelvis and thorax rotations relate to the movements of the upper leg, and how these patterns contribute to total body angular momentum. Nine healthy male volunteers walked on a treadmill at nine different velocities, ranging from 2.0 km/h to 5.2 km/h. Full body kinematics were recorded. Femur-pelvis, pelvis-thorax, and femur-thorax relative phase were calculated, as well as transverse plane angular momentum of all body segments. The shift in pelvis-thorax coordination from in-phase to out of phase with increasing velocity was found to depend on the pelvis beginning to move in-phase with the femur, while the thorax continued to counter rotate with respect to the femur. Moreover, pelvic and thoracic contributions to total body angular momentum were low (less than 10%), while contributions of the legs and arms were much larger (approximately 90%), suggesting that pelvis-thorax coordination is relatively unimportant to the organisation of total body angular momentum. Taken together, these results may imply that our understanding of the pelvic step need to be changed. Moreover, the alterations in pelvis-thorax relative phase that were reported for different locomotor pathologies may depend on different mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Pelvis / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Thorax / physiology*