Walking and running on the level involves external mechanical work, even when speed averaged over a complete stride remains constant. This work must be performed by the muscles to accelerate and/or raise the center of mass of the body during parts of the stride, replacing energy which is lost as the body slows and/or falls during other parts of the stride. External work can be measured with fair approximation by means of a force plate, which records the horizontal and vertical components of the resultant force applied by the body to the ground over a complete stride. The horizontal force and the vertical force minus the body weight are integrated electronically to determine the instantaneous velocity in each plane. These velocities are squared and multiplied by one-half the mass to yield the instantaneous kinetic energy. The change in potential energy is calculated by integrating vertical velocity as a function of time to yield vertical displacement and multiplying this by body weight. The total mechanical energy as a function of time is obtained by adding the instantaneous kinetic and potential energies. The positive external mechanical work is obtained by adding the increments in total mechanical energy over an integral number of strides.
- Copyright © 1975 the American Physiological Society