Contributions of muscles to mediolateral ground reaction force over a range of walking speeds.
Impaired control of mediolateral body motion during walking is an important health concern. Developing treatments to improve mediolateral control is challenging, partly because the mechanisms by which muscles modulate mediolateral ground reaction force (and thereby modulate mediolateral acceleration of the body mass center) during unimpaired walking are poorly understood. To investigate this, we examined mediolateral ground reaction forces in eight unimpaired subjects walking at four speeds and determined the contributions of muscles, gravity, and velocity-related forces to the mediolateral ground reaction force by analyzing muscle-driven simulations of these subjects. During early stance (0-6% gait cycle), peak ground reaction force on the leading foot was directed laterally and increased significantly (p<0.05) with walking speed. During early single support (14-30% gait cycle), peak ground reaction force on the stance foot was directed medially and increased significantly (p<0.01) with speed. Muscles accounted for more than 92% of the mediolateral ground reaction force over all walking speeds, whereas gravity and velocity-related forces made relatively small contributions. Muscles coordinate mediolateral acceleration via an interplay between the medial ground reaction force contributed by the abductors and the lateral ground reaction forces contributed by the knee extensors, plantarflexors, and adductors. Our findings show how muscles that contribute to forward progression and body-weight support also modulate mediolateral acceleration of the body mass center while weight is transferred from one leg to another during double support. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.