The effect of anteroposterior perturbations on the control of the center of mass during treadmill walking

Maud van den Bogaart, Sjoerd M. Bruijn*, Jaap H. van Dieën, Pieter Meyns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Shifts of the center of pressure (CoP) through modulation of foot placement and ankle moments (CoP-mechanism) cause accelerations of the center of mass (CoM) that can be used to stabilize gait. An additional mechanism that can be used to stabilize gait, is the counter-rotation mechanism, i.e., changing the angular momentum of segments around the CoM to change the direction of the ground reaction force. The relative contribution of these mechanisms to the control of the CoM is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to determine the relative contribution of these mechanisms to control the CoM in the anteroposterior (AP) direction during a normal step and the first recovery step after perturbation in healthy adults. Nineteen healthy subjects walked on a split-belt treadmill and received unexpected belt acceleration perturbations of various magnitudes applied immediately after right heel-strike. Full-body kinematic and force plate data were obtained to calculate the contributions of the CoP-mechanism and the counter-rotation mechanism to control the CoM. We found that the CoP-mechanism contributed to corrections of the CoM acceleration after the AP perturbations, while the counter-rotation mechanism actually counteracted the CoM acceleration after perturbation, but only in the initial phases of the first step after the perturbation. The counter-rotation mechanism appeared to prevent interference with the gait pattern, rather than using it to control the CoM after the perturbation. Understanding the mechanisms used to stabilize gait may have implications for the design of therapeutic interventions that aim to decrease fall incidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109660
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2020


  • Ankle moments
  • Center of mass acceleration
  • Counter-rotation mechanism
  • Foot placement
  • Gait stability
  • Perturbed treadmill walking


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