Walking speed, cadence and step length are selected to optimize the stability of head and pelvis accelerations Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that an individual's preferred or usual walking speed, step length and cadence optimize the stability of head and pelvic accelerations in vertical (V), anterior-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) planes when walking. Acceleration patterns of the head and pelvis were recorded in ten healthy young adults as they walked on a level surface in three separate experiments: (1) walking at five different speeds, ranging from very slow to very fast; (2) walking in time to a metronome set at five different cadences, ranging from 33 to 167% of subjects' usual cadence; and (3) walking at five different step lengths varying from very short to very long while keeping in time with a metronome set at cadences 67, 100 and 125% of usual cadence. The results indicated that acceleration patterns in the V and AP planes were most stable when subjects walked at their usual cadence and step length. In the ML plane, stability was suboptimal, but still adequate, with the usual cadence and step length. The findings suggest that healthy young people walk in a manner that maximizes V and AP stability while maintaining adequate, though suboptimal ML stability.

publication date

  • November 16, 2007