Jan 20, 2007

Running stability is enhanced by a proximo-distal gradient in joint neuromechanical control

The Journal of Experimental Biology
Monica A DaleyAndrew A Biewener

Abstract

We currently know little about how animals achieve dynamic stability when running over uneven and unpredictable terrain, often characteristic of their natural environment. Here we investigate how limb and joint mechanics of an avian biped, the helmeted guinea fowl Numida meleagris, respond to an unexpected drop in terrain during running. In particular, we address how joint mechanics are coordinated to achieve whole limb dynamics. Based on muscle-tendon architecture and previous studies of steady and incline locomotion, we hypothesize a proximo-distal gradient in joint neuromechanical control. In this motor control strategy, (1) proximal muscles at the hip and knee joints are controlled primarily in a feedforward manner and exhibit load-insensitive mechanical performance, and (2) distal muscles at the ankle and tarsometatarso-phalangeal (TMP) joints are highly load-sensitive, due to intrinsic mechanical effects and rapid, higher gain proprioceptive feedback. Limb kinematics and kinetics during the unexpected perturbation reveal that limb retraction, controlled largely by the hip, remains similar to level running throughout the perturbed step, despite altered limb loading. Individual joints produce or absorb energy during both le...Continue Reading

  • References28
  • Citations51

References

  • References28
  • Citations51

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Articular System
Ankle
Ankle Joint Structure
Galliformes
Running (Physical Activity)
Family Numididae
Joints
Locomotion
Limb Structure
Knee Joint

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