Humans prioritize regulation of the whole-body angular momentum (WBAM) during walking. When perturbed, modulations of the moment arm of the ground reaction force (GRF) with respect to the centre of mass (CoM) assist in recovering WBAM. For sagittal-plane perturbations of the WBAM given at toe off right (TOR), horizontal GRF modulations and not centre of pressure (COP) modulations were mainly responsible for these moment arm modulations. In this study, we aimed to find whether the instant of perturbations affects the contributions of the GRF and/or CoP modulations to the moment arm changes, in balance recovery during very slow walking. Perturbations of the WBAM were applied at three different instants of the gait cycle, namely at TOR, mid-swing (MS), and heel strike right (HSR). Forces equal to 16% of the participant's body weight were applied simultaneously to the pelvis and upper body in opposite directions for a duration of 150 ms. The results showed that the perturbation onset did not significantly affect the GRF moment arm modulation. However, the contribution of both the CoP and GRF modulation to the moment arm changes did change depending on the perturbation instant. After perturbations resulting in a forward pitch of the trunk a larger contribution was present from the CoP modulation when perturbations were given at MS or HSR, compared to perturbations at TOR. After backward pitch perturbations given at MS and HSR the CoP modulation counteracted the moment arm required for WBAM recovery. Therefore a larger contribution from the horizontal GRF was needed to direct the GRF posterior to the CoM and recover WBAM. In conclusion, the onset of WBAM perturbations does not affect the moment arm modulation needed for WBAM recovery, while it does affect the way CoP and GRF modulation contribute to that recovery.
- Centre of pressure modulation
- Ground reaction force vector
- Human balance
- Very slow walking
- Whole-body angular momentum