Oct 13, 2006

Running over rough terrain reveals limb control for intrinsic stability

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Monica A Daley, A A Biewener

Abstract

Legged animals routinely negotiate rough, unpredictable terrain with agility and stability that outmatches any human-built machine. Yet, we know surprisingly little about how animals accomplish this. Current knowledge is largely limited to studies of steady movement. These studies have revealed fundamental mechanisms used by terrestrial animals for steady locomotion. However, it is unclear whether these models provide an appropriate framework for the neuromuscular and mechanical strategies used to achieve dynamic stability over rough terrain. Perturbation experiments shed light on this issue, revealing the interplay between mechanics and neuromuscular control. We measured limb mechanics of helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) running over an unexpected drop in terrain, comparing their response to predictions of the mass-spring running model. Adjustment of limb contact angle explains 80% of the variation in stance-phase limb loading following the perturbation. Surprisingly, although limb stiffness varies dramatically, it does not influence the response. This result agrees with a mass-spring model, although it differs from previous findings on humans running over surfaces of varying compliance. However, guinea fowl sometimes d...Continue Reading

  • References21
  • Citations54

References

  • References21
  • Citations54

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Study
Galliformes
Surface Properties
Running (Physical Activity)
Soleus Muscle Structure
Family Numididae
Locomotion
Limb Structure
Postural Balance
Kinematics

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