Why do we walk the way we do?

Max Donelan
School of Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University

(January 15, 2008 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM)

Why do we walk the way we do?

Abstract

Walking is much easier to do than understand. After all, we could put a man on the moon before we had a good idea as to how he would move once he got there. Our understanding of walking has been limited not by effort or creativity but by the complexity of the problem. This complexity is a consequence of the tight interactions between the mechanics of muscles and limbs, the control of the brain and spinal cord, and the constraints of the physical environment. While sometimes frustrating, it is also what makes the study of locomotion physiology so fascinating and is responsible for walking's many unsolved mysteries. For example, why does amputee walking requires more energy than able-bodied walking? And, are their advantages of bipedalim over quadrupedalism? The goal of this talk is to provide insight into some of the general principles that underlie walking as well as the interesting techniques that have elucidated these principles. Many of these principles were originally identified, or have since been expanded upon, by the participants in the ongoing MBI Workshop titled "Biomechanics and Neural Control: Muscle, Limb and Brain."