Effects of stride frequency on mechanical power and energy expenditure of walking

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Aug;27(8):1194-202.


The energetics and mechanics of walking were investigated at different speeds, both at the freely chosen stride frequency (FCSF) and at imposed ones (up to +/- 40% of FCSF). Metabolic energy expenditure was minimized at FCSF for each speed. Motion analysis allowed to calculate: the mechanical internal work rate (Wint), needed to move the segments with respect to the body center of mass (bcm); the external work rate (Wext), necessary to move bcm in the environment; and the total work rate (Wtot), equal to Wint+Wext. Wtot explains the metabolic optimization only at high speeds, while Wext, differently from previously reported, displays minima which better predict FCSF at all speeds (exception made for 1.39 m.s-1). This is probably caused by an overestimation of Wint due to a more ballistic movement of the limbs at low speeds (and low frequencies). The tendency of Wext to increase at high frequencies is due to a persistent minimal vertical excursion of bcm (about 0.02 m, the "locomotory dead space"). While the match between mechanics and energetics (at FCSF and imposed frequencies) occurs to a certain extent, it could be improved by removing the methodological assumptions about the energy transfer between segments and by the possibility to account for the coactivation of antagonist muscles.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Composition
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Energy Transfer
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Work