Roll-over characteristics of human walking on inclined surfaces

Andrew H. Hansen, Dudley S. Childress, Steve C. Miff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Roll-over characteristics of able-bodied human subjects walking on ramped surfaces were examined in this study. Ten subjects walked at their normal self-selected speed on a level surface, a 5-deg ramp, and a 10-deg ramped surface. Ramps were designed such that ground reaction forces and center of pressure of the ground reaction forces could be measured on their surfaces. This set-up facilitated calculation of the effective rockers that the ankle-foot (AF) and knee-ankle-foot (KAF) systems conformed to during single-limb stance (contralateral toe off to contralateral heel contact). Since our original "roll-over shapes" were characterized between heel contact and opposite heel contact, we label the shapes found during single-limb stance as "truncated roll-over shapes". We hypothesized that the ankle-foot system would adapt to the various surfaces, creating a roll-over shape that would change in orientation with different levels of inclination. The truncated AF roll-over shapes supported this hypothesis for uphill walking but did not support the hypothesis for downhill walking. However, truncated roll-over shapes of the KAF system did adjust their orientation to match both the positive and negative levels of surface inclination. In general, the ankle appears to be the main adapting joint when walking up inclined surfaces while the knee becomes important for the overall adaptation in downhill walking. Knowledge of physiological lower-limb roll-over characteristics on ramped surfaces may help in the development of biomimetic prostheses and orthoses that will automatically adapt to changes in walking surface inclination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-821
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004


  • Biomimesis
  • Gait analysis
  • Human movement
  • Ramp walking
  • Rockers

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