A normal walking gait pattern relies on various key biomechanical features that are known as the determinants of gait. These 6 determinants of gait were first described by Saunders et al back in 1953, and still have been broadly embraced with many changes and small issues. I consider these determinants of gait important as they facilitate a much more efficient movement by the decreasing the up and down center of mass movements leading to a reduction in the metabolic energy needed for movement. The rationale underpinning this is that the greater management of these kinds of determinants of gait contributes to an increase in energy conservation and much more efficient motion. The theory which does underpin these kinds of determinants of gait are in conflict with the ‘inverted pendulum’ principle which considers the static stance leg being like a pendulum that tracks an arc. The biomechanics area will continue to debate the worth of these two approaches.

What are the six determinants of gait?

The 6 determinants of gait and just how they affect the centre of mass (COM) displacement and energy efficiency are:

  1. Pelvic rotation: The pelvis rotates side to side in the course of normal gait to help with the advancement of the contralateral side via lowered hip joint flexion and extension. This affects the lowering of metabolic energy along with the improved energy efficiency by reduction of the vertical COM displacement.
  2. Pelvic tilt: During regular gait there’s a dipping of the swing phase aspect of the pelvis that is handled by the hip joint abductor muscles. This muscle actions reduces the raising of the center of mass through the change from hip flexion to extension. This can reduce the use of metabolic energy while increasing energy preservation by lessening vertical center of mass motion.
  3. Knee joint flexion during the stance phase: The knee joint is extended at heel strike and after that starts to flex when the foot is in contact with the ground. The knee flexion will lower the height of the vertical trajectory of the COM resulting in some energy conservation.
  4. Motion with the foot and ankle: The ankle rockers at heel contact and mid-stance brings about a decrease in COM movement via the shortening of the leg play a role by lessening the COM up and down displacement.
  5. Knee movements: The motion of the knee joint is related to those of the ankle and foot motions and leads to the reduction of the center of mass up and down movement and brings about decreases in that COM movement and energy cost.
  6. Lateral displacement of the body: this lateral movement with the pelvis or a relative adduction with the hip is mediated with the influence of the tibiofemoral angle and also relative adduction of the hip joint to reduce vertical center of mass movement. It’s thought to be that this particular feature plays an essential part in ensuring the efficacy in normal gait.

These 6 determinants of gait happen to be pragmatically appealing because they help us focus on some important aspects to help keep the center of mass motion from to much vertical movement to increase the proficiency of gait. Nonetheless, some recent analysis queries if many or most of the determinants really are that essential in the general scheme with the events that occur throughout the walking cycle. Despite that taking into consideration these types of determinants is fundamental in understanding gait disability.


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Craig Payne Author
University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger, dad.