The dynamics of quadrupedal locomotion

J Biomech Eng. 1988 Aug;110(3):230-7. doi: 10.1115/1.3108436.


This paper presents a dynamical analysis of quadrupedal locomotion, with specific reference to an adult Nubian goat. Measurements of ground reaction forces and limb motion are used to assess variations in intersegmental forces, joint moments, and instantaneous power for three discernible gaits: walking, running, and jumping. In each case, inertial effects of the torso are shown to dominate to the extent that lower-extremity contributions may be considered negligible. Footforces generated by the forelimbs exceed those exerted by the hindlimbs; and, in general, ground reactions increase with speed. The shoulder and hip dominate mechanical energy production during walking, while the knee plays a more significant role in running. In both cases, however, the elbow absorbs energy, and by so doing functions primarily as a damping (control) element. As opposed to either walking or running, jumping requires total horizontal retardation of the body's center of mass. In this instance, generating the necessary vertical thrust amounts to energy absorption at all joints of the lower extremities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Female
  • Goats / physiology*
  • Joints / physiology
  • Locomotion*
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Running