Kinematic analyses of gait

* denotes sections that contain background material that is not included in course objectives.

Kinematic measures of gait

kinematic variables describe the extent, speed, and direction of movement of joints or body segments

Summary of gait kinematics

The chart (adapted from Mann, 1975, Fig. 13-18, p. 266; Rodgers, 1988, Fig. 1, p. 1823; Chan & Rogers, 1994; Mann & Mann, 1997, Fig. 7.24, p. 149) summarizes the kinematic interactions that occur during the gait cycle. The chart's rows distinguish between stance and swing phases. The columns are mapped to information about the relevant joints and segments.

Summary of LE Movement During Gait


Chan, C.W., & Rudins, A. (1994). Foot biomechanics during walking and running. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 69, 448-61.

Mann, R.A. (1975). Biomechanics of the foot. In American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (Ed.), Atlas of orthotics: Biomechanical principles and application (pp. 257-266). St. Louis: C.V. Mosby.

Mann, R.A., & Mann, J.A. (1997). Biomechanics of the foot. In B. Goldberg & J.D. Hsu (Eds.), Atlas of orthoses and assistive devices (pp. 135-152). St. Louis: C.V. Mosby.

Rodgers, M.M. (1988). Dynamic biomechanics of the normal foot and ankle during walking and running. Physical Therapy, 68, 1822-1830.

*The determinants of normal and pathological gait

Features of the movement pattern that minimize displacement in the body's center of gravity during gait:
  1. Pelvic Rotation
  2. Lateral Pelvic Tilt (Drop)
  3. Knee Flexion in Stance
  4. Knee Ankle Foot Interactions
  5. Knee Ankle Foot Interactions
  6. Physiological Genu Valgus
Saunders, J.B., Inman, V.T., & Eberhart, H.D. (1953). The major determinants in normal and pathological gait. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 35A, 543-558. Examples of how these kinematic features produce an efficient walking pattern:


During ambulation, the body's center of gravity is propelled forward. However it also moves vertically and laterally; we presume a gait pattern to be energy efficient to the extent that it minimizes vertical and lateral displacements.

  1. Vertical displacement of COG

    Viewed in the sagittal plane, the vertical displacement of the center of gravity traces a smooth sinusoidal curve. This curve's amplitude in the normal adult male is approximately 5 cm or 2 inches. The center of gravity moves vertically through two full oscillations during each gait cycle, so that the curve has two peaks and two troughs.

    • The low points or troughs in the sinusoidal pathway occur during the gait cycle's two periods of double limb support (loading response and preswing). The depth of the troughs is limited by:

    • The high points or peaks occur at midstance and again at midswing. The height of these peaks is limited by:
  2. Lateral displacement of COG

    The center of gravity also oscillates laterally during ambulation. The total lateral displacement traces a sinusoidal curve with an amplitude of approximately 6 centimeters or 2.5 inches. The greatest lateral excursion of the center of gravity occurs at the end of midstance. Thus, only one full lateral oscillation of the center of gravity (to the right and left) occurs during a gait cycle. The amplitude of this lateral excursion is limited by a structural feature in the lower extremities, namely genu valgus.

To obtain a complementary perspective, view Chris Kirtley's kinematics web page, which covers some of the same material as this page.

Last updated 3-27-02 Dave Thompson PT
Introduction to the study of walking
This is one of the first pages developed during this web education project, which began February 20, 1996.