DOI: 10.1101/474650Nov 30, 2018Paper

Connecting the legs with a spring improves human running economy

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Cole SimpsonElliot Hawkes


Spring-like tissues attached to the swinging legs of animals are thought to improve running economy by simply reducing the effort of leg swing. Here we show that a spring, or 'exotendon,' connecting the legs of a human runner improves economy instead through a more complex mechanism that produces savings during both swing and stance. The spring increases the energy optimal stride frequency; when runners adopt this new gait pattern, savings occur in both phases of gait. Remarkably, the simple device improves running economy by 6.4 ± 2.8%, comparable to savings achieved by motorized assistive robotics that directly target the costlier stance phase of gait. Our results highlight the importance of considering both the dynamics of the body and the adaptive strategies of the user when designing systems that couple human and machine.

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