Differential shock transmission response of the human body to impact severity and lower limb posture

J Biomech. 1996 Dec;29(12):1531-7.


The shocks imparted to the foot during locomotion may lead to joint-degenerative diseases and jeopardize the visual-vestibular functions. The body relies upon several mechanisms and structures that have unique viscoelastic properties for shock attenuation. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether impact severity and initial knee angle (IKA) could alter the shock transmission characteristics of the body. Impacts were administered to the right foot of 38 subjects with a human pendulum device. Combinations of velocities (0.9, 1.05 and 1.2 m s-1) and surfaces (soft and hard foams) served to manipulate impact severity in the first experiment. Three IKA (0, 20 and 40 degrees) were examined in the second experiment. Transmission between shank and head was characterized by measuring the shock at these sites with miniature accelerometers. Velocity and surface had no effect on the frequency profile of shock transmission suggesting a consistent response of the body to impact severity. Shank shock power spectrum features accounted for the lower shock ratio (head/shank) measured under the hard surface condition. IKA flexion caused considerable reduction in effective axial stiffness of the body (EASB), 28.7-7.9 kNm-1, which improved shock attenuation. The high correlation (r = 0.97) between EASB and shock ratio underscored the importance of EASB to shock attenuation. The present findings provide valuable information for the development of strategies aimed at protecting the joints, articular cartilage, spine and head against locomotor shock.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Elasticity
  • Electronics, Medical / instrumentation
  • Fibula / physiology
  • Foot / physiology
  • Hardness
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Miniaturization
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Postural Balance
  • Spine / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surface Properties
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Viscosity
  • Vision, Ocular