Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 651–660 | Cite as

Speed-related changes in hindlimb intersegmental dynamics during the swing phase of cat locomotion

  • D. Wisleder
  • R. F. Zernicke
  • J. L. Smith


To determine speed-related changes in hindlimb motion that might account for the mutability of bifunctional (hip extensor/knee flexor) muscle activity during the E1 phase of swing, we studied hip and knee joint kinematics and kinetics during swing over a ten-fold increase in locomotor speed (0.35 to 3.5 m/s). Three cats were filmed (100 frames/s) while locomoting on a motorized treadmill; kinematics were analyzed for the entire step cycle and kinetics for the swing phase. During swing, angular excursions at the hip and knee joints were similar for walking and trotting, but hip flexion and extension were significantly less after the transition from trot to gallop, while knee-angle range of motion increased during gallop phases E1, E2, and E3. During swing, knee-extension velocity peaked early in E1 and increased linearly with speed, while hip-flexion velocity peaked late in the flexion (F) phase and also increased linearly, but decreased precipitously at the trotgallop transition and remained constant as speed of galloping increased. Muscle torque directions during E1, flexor at the knee and extensor at the hip, were consistent with the proposed role of bifunctional posterior thigh muscles to decelerate thigh and leg segments for paw contact. At the knee joint, muscle torque during E1 counteracted a large interactive torque due to leg angular acceleration; the magnitudes of both torques were speed related with maximal values at the fastest speed tested (3.5 m/s). At the hip joint, muscle torque during E1 also counteracted a large interactive torque due to leg angular acceleration; the magnitudes of these two torques were speed related during the walk and trot, and like hip flexion velocity, decreased at the trot-gallop transition. Our data on speed-related changes in hindlimb dynamics suggest that the E1 burst amplitude (and perhaps duration) of posterior thigh muscles will be speed related during the walk and trot. After the trot-gallop transition at about 2.5 m/s, the recruitment of these bifunctional muscles may decline due to the changes in hindlimb dynamics. Because activity of these muscles counteracts interactive torques primarily related to leg angular acceleration, we suggest that motion-related feedback decoding this action may be important for regulating recruitment during E1.

Key words

Inverse dynamics Step-cycle kinematics Swing-phase kinetics Coordination Cat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Wisleder
    • 1
  • R. F. Zernicke
    • 1
  • J. L. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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