Walking with increasing acceleration is achieved by tuning ankle torque onset timing and rate of torque development

Logan Wade, Jonathon Birch, Dominic James Farris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Understanding the mechanics of torque production about the ankle during accelerative gait is key to designing effective clinical and rehabilitation practices, along with developing functional robotics and wearable assistive technologies. We aimed to explore how torque and work about the ankle is produced as walking acceleration increases from 0 to 100% maximal acceleration. We hypothesized that as acceleration increased, greater work about the ankle would not be solely due to ramping up plantar flexor torque, and instead would be a product of adjustments to relative timing of ankle torque and angular displacement. Fifteen healthy participants performed walking without acceleration (constant speed), as well as low, moderate and maximal accelerations, while motion capture and ground reaction force data were recorded. We employed vector coding in a novel application to overcome limitations of previously employed evaluation methods. As walking acceleration increased, there was reduced negative work and increased positive work about the ankle. Furthermore, early stance dorsiflexion had reducing plantar flexor torque due to delayed plantar flexor torque onset as acceleration increased, while mid-stance ankle plantar flexor torque was substantially increased with minimal ankle dorsiflexion, irrespective of acceleration magnitude. Assistive devices need to account for these changes during accelerative walking to facilitate functional gait.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220035
Pages (from-to)20220035
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of the Royal Society, Interface
Issue number191
Early online date29 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially funded by the University of Queensland Postgraduate School. Jonathon Birch was supported by a QUEX Institute doctoral scholarship. Acknowledgements


  • constant speed
  • exoskeleton
  • falling
  • gait
  • prosthetics
  • torque–angle relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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