Pelvic step: the contribution of horizontal pelvis rotation to step length in young healthy adults walking on a treadmill

Bo Wei Liang, Wen Hua Wu, Onno G Meijer, Jian Hua Lin, Go Rong Lv, Xiao Cong Lin, Maarten R Prins, Hai Hu, Jaap H van Dieën, Sjoerd M Bruijn
Gait & Posture 2014, 39 (1): 105-10
Transverse plane pelvis rotations during walking may be regarded as the "first determinant of gait". This would assume that pelvis rotations increase step length, and thereby reduce the vertical movements of the centre of mass-"the pelvic step". We analysed the pelvic step using 20 healthy young male subjects, walking on a treadmill at 1-5 km/h, with normal or big steps. Step length, pelvis rotation amplitude, leg-pelvis relative phase, and the contribution of pelvis rotation to step length were calculated. When speed increased in normal walking, pelvis rotation changed from more out-of-phase to in-phase with the upper leg. Consequently, the contribution of pelvis rotation to step length was negative at lower speeds, switching to positive at 3 km/h. With big steps, leg and pelvis were more in-phase, and the contribution of pelvis rotation to step length was always positive, and relatively large. Still, the overall contribution of pelvis rotations to step length was small, less than 3%. Regression analysis revealed that leg-pelvis relative phase predicted about 60% of the variance of this contribution. The results of the present study suggest that, during normal slow walking, pelvis rotations increase, rather than decrease, the vertical movements of the centre of mass. With large steps, this does not happen, because leg and pelvis are in-phase at all speeds. Finally, it has been suggested that patients with hip flexion limitation may use larger pelvis rotations to increase step length. This, however, may only work as long as the pelvis rotates in-phase with the leg.

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