The six determinants of gait proposed that the goal of gait is to minimize vertical displacement of the body's center of mass (CoM) with the objective to optimize energy expenditure. On the contrary, recent investigations suggest that reduced vertical displacement leads to an increase in energy expenditure. However, these investigations had the included subjects deliberately changing their gait, which could bias the endpoint measures. The present study investigated the effect of reduced vertical displacement of the CoM on oxygen uptake and walking economy without imposing altered gait patterns. This was accomplished by having subjects walk on a curved treadmill and on a flat treadmill. Vertical displacement of the CoM (sacrum marker displacement), oxygen uptake, walking economy, stride characteristics and lower limb joint angles were measured. There were significant differences in stride characteristics and phase dependent differences in lower limb movement pattern between the two conditions which in size were comparable to the changes observed between different speeds. The vertical displacement of the CoM was significantly reduced on the curved treadmill. This was accompanied by an increase in oxygen uptake and walking economy. These results support recent assertions that the six determinants of gait do not serve to improve walking economy.
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