Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 178, Issue 4, pp 427–438

Recumbent stepping has similar but simpler neural control compared to walking

  • Rebecca H. Stoloff
  • E. Paul Zehr
  • Daniel P. Ferris
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-006-0745-7

Cite this article as:
Stoloff, R.H., Zehr, E.P. & Ferris, D.P. Exp Brain Res (2007) 178: 427. doi:10.1007/s00221-006-0745-7


The purpose of this study was to compare muscle activation patterns and kinematics during recumbent stepping and walking to determine if recumbent stepping has a similar motor pattern as walking. We measured joint kinematics and electromyography in ten neurologically intact humans walking on a treadmill at 0 and 50% body weight support (BWS), and recumbent stepping using a commercially available exercise machine. Cross correlation of upper and lower limb electromyography patterns between conditions revealed high correlations for most muscles. A principal component analysis revealed that the first factor accounted for more muscle activation signal content during recumbent stepping (81%) than during walking (70%). This indicates that the motor pattern during walking is more complex than during stepping. Cross correlation analysis found a high correlation between factors for recumbent stepping and walking (R = 0.54), though not as high as the correlation between factors for walking at 0% BWS and walking at 50% BWS (R = 0.68). There were substantial differences in joint kinematics between walking and recumbent stepping, most notably in hip, elbow, and shoulder motions. These results suggest that although the two tasks have different kinematic patterns, recumbent stepping relies on similar neural networks as walking. Individuals with neurological impairments may be able to improve walking ability from recumbent stepping practice given similarities in neural control between the two tasks.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca H. Stoloff
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Paul Zehr
    • 5
  • Daniel P. Ferris
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Movement ScienceUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Rehabilitation Neuroscience LaboratoryUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  6. 6.Division of KinesiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA