Walking beyond preferred transition speed increases muscle activations with a shift from inverted pendulum to spring mass model in lower extremity

Yo Shih, Yi Chun Chen, Yin Shin Lee, Ming Sheng Chan, Tzyy Yuang Shiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The triggers for the transition of gait from walking to running during increasing speed locomotion have been attributed to an energy conservation strategy or a relief of excessive muscle activation. Walking beyond the preferred transition speed (PTS) has been proposed as an exercise protocol for boosting energy consumption. However, the biomechanical factors involved while this protocol is used have not been investigated. Thus, this study investigated the difference between walking and running below, during, and beyond the PTS from a biomechanical perspective. Methods: Sixteen healthy male participants were recruited. After determination of their PTS, five speeds of walking and running were defined. Kinematic data, including center-of-mass (COM) displacement, COM acceleration, and electromyography (EMG) data of rectus femoris (RF), biceps femoris, gastrocnemius (GAS), and tibialis anterior were collected at the five speeds for both walking and running. Result: The vertical COM displacement and acceleration in running were significantly larger than those in walking at all five speeds (p < 0.05). EMG signals of the two antigravity muscles, RF and GAS, demonstrated a significant higher activation in walking than that in running at the speed beyond PTS (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The larger energy consumption in walking than that in running beyond the PTS may be attributed to the high activation of lower-extremity muscles. The smaller vertical COM displacements and accelerations exhibited when participants walked beyond the PTS rather than ran did not indicate adverse effects of using walking beyond the PTS as an exercise prescription for boosting energy consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 1



  • Acceleration
  • Center of mass
  • Electromyography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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