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Health and Fitness

What are the six determinants of efficient gait?

A normal walking gait pattern depends on certain main biomechanical functions that are known as the determinants of gait. These six determinants of gait were first described by Saunders back in 1953, and still have been broadly embraced with a few variations along with minor problems. The determinants of gait are viewed as important as they help maintain a much more economical movement by the reducing the vertical center of mass motion that leads to a decrease in the metabolic energy required for motion. The theory underpinning this is that the greater control of these types of determinants of gait brings about an increase in power conservation and much more efficient movement. This model that does underpin these determinants of gait happen to be in conflict with the ‘inverted pendulum’ principle which considers the static stance leg acting as a pendulum that tracks an arc. The biomechanics community continues to debate the worth of the two frameworks.

The six determinants of gait and the way they have an effect on the centre of mass (COM) movement and energy conservation are:

1. Pelvic rotation: The pelvis pivots side to side during normal walking to help with the advancement of the contralateral side by means of reduced hip joint flexion and extension. This influences the reduction of metabolic energy and also the improved energy conservation by reducing the up and down COM movement.

2. Pelvic tilt: During normal gait there is a tilting of the swing period side of the pelvis that is controlled by the hip abductor muscle group. The muscle action cuts down on the raising of the COM during the transition from hip flexion to extension. This should reduce the use of metabolic energy while increasing energy preservation by lessening up and down center of mass movements.

3. Knee flexion throughout stance phase: The knee is extended at heel contact and then starts to flex when the foot is in contact with the ground. The knee joint flexion will reduce the apex with the vertical trajectory of the center of mass contributing to some energy conservation.

4. Motion in the foot and ankle: The ankle joint rockers at heel contact and mid-stance brings about a reduction in COM displacement through the shortening of the leg may play a role by reducing the center of mass vertical movement.

5. Knee motion: The movement of the knee relates to the ones from the ankle and foot motions and leads to the reduction of the center of mass up and down motion and brings about reductions in the center of mass displacement and energy cost.

6. Lateral displacement of the body: this lateral movement with the pelvis or a relative adduction of the hip is mediated with the influence of the tibiofemoral angle and also relative adduction of the hip to decrease vertical center of mass movement. It is thought to be that this determinant has a major role in ensuring the efficiency in normal gait.

These 6 determinants of gait are pragmatically interesting as they help us focus on certain important aspects to help keep the COM motion smooth and improve the efficacy of walking. Nonetheless, some recent analysis questions if most or some of the determinants are really that important in the overall plan with the events which happen throughout the gait cycle. Despite that contemplating these determinants is fundamental in figuring out gait impairment.