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VWN Printer Friendly News: Human Gait Adapted for Efficient Walking at the Cost of Efficient Running

 Human Gait Adapted for Efficient Walking at the Cost of Efficient Running
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Date posted: 14/02/2010
Posted by: Site Administration
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Humans, other great apes and bears are among the few animals that step first on the heel when walking, and then roll onto the ball of the foot and toes. Now, a University of Utah study shows the advantage: Compared with heel-first walking, it takes 53 percent more energy to walk on the balls of your feet, and 83 percent more energy to walk on your toes.

"Our heel touches the ground at the start of each step. In most mammals, the heel remains elevated during walking and running," says biology Professor David Carrier, senior author of the new study being published online Friday, Feb. 12 and in the March 1 print issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.

"Most mammals -- dogs, cats, raccoons -- walk and run around on the balls of their feet. Ungulates like horses and deer run and walk on their tiptoes," he adds. "Few species land on their heel: bears and humans and other great apes -- chimps, gorillas, orangutans."

"Our study shows that the heel-down posture increases the economy of walking but not the economy of running," says Carrier. "You consume more energy when you walk on the balls of your feet or your toes than when you walk heels first."

Economical walking would have helped early human hunter-gatherers find food, he says. Yet, because other great apes also are heel-first walkers, it means the trait evolved before our common ancestors descended from the trees, he adds.

See the full Story via external site: www.sciencedaily.com