The effect of walking speed on the gait of typically developing children

J Biomech. 2008;41(8):1639-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.03.015. Epub 2008 May 7.


Many gait studies include subjects walking well below or above typical self-selected comfortable (free) speed. For this reason, a descriptive study examining the effect of walking speed on gait was conducted. The purpose of the study was to create a single-source, readily accessible repository of comprehensive gait data for a large group of children walking at a wide variety of speeds. Three-dimensional lower extremity joint kinematics, joint kinetics, surface electromyographic (EMG), and spatio-temporal data were collected on 83 typically developing children (ages 4-17) walking at speeds ranging from very slow (>3 standard deviations below mean free speed) to very fast (>3 standard deviations above mean free speed). The resulting data show that speed has a significant influence on many measures of interest, such as kinematic parameters in the sagittal, coronal, and transverse planes. The same was true for kinetic data (ground reaction force, moment, and power), normalized EMG signals, and spatio-temporal parameters. Examples of parameters with linear and various nonlinear speed dependencies are provided. The data from this study, including an extensive electronic addendum, can be used as a reference for both basic biomechanical and clinical gait studies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Walking / physiology*