Effects of age and speed on the ankle-foot system's power during walking

Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 10;10(1):14903. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-71763-8.


Structural and functional changes in the foot have been associated with age-related changes in gait mechanics, but walking speed may be a confounding factor in this relationship. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of aging and speed on the ankle-foot power output during level walking. The effects of speed and aging on features of the mechanical power and work of the ankle and foot were quantified with a gait analysis of 24 young and 16 older individuals walking at different speeds. We observed gait speed having a significant effect on all the investigated features: peak power and positive and negative work of the ankle, foot, and sum of the ankle and foot (average effect size: 0.64 ± 0.22, from 0.26 to 0.87). We observed age having no effect on these same features (average effect size: 0.23 ± 0.12, from 0.03 to 0.39), with the exception of age's effect when combined with speed on the negative work of the foot. We performed additional analysis to illustrate how the speed can become a confounding factor to the understanding of the age effect on the gait biomechanics. Based on the influence of gait speed on the mechanical power of the ankle-foot system, it is essential that studies control for the effect of gait speed if there is interest in understanding age-related effects, particularly when studying frail older individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Walking Speed*
  • Walking*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.5722711.v4