Muscle contributions to support and progression during single-limb stance in crouch gait

Katherine M. Steele, Ajay Seth, Jennifer L. Hicks, Michael S. Schwartz, Scott L. Delp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Pathological movement patterns like crouch gait are characterized by abnormal kinematics and muscle activations that alter how muscles support the body weight during walking. Individual muscles are often the target of interventions to improve crouch gait, yet the roles of individual muscles during crouch gait remain unknown. The goal of this study was to examine how muscles contribute to mass center accelerations and joint angular accelerations during single-limb stance in crouch gait, and compare these contributions to unimpaired gait. Subject-specific dynamic simulations were created for ten children who walked in a mild crouch gait and had no previous surgeries. The simulations were analyzed to determine the acceleration of the mass center and angular accelerations of the hip, knee, and ankle generated by individual muscles. The results of this analysis indicate that children walking in crouch gait have less passive skeletal support of body weight and utilize substantially higher muscle forces to walk than unimpaired individuals. Crouch gait relies on the same muscles as unimpaired gait to accelerate the mass center upward, including the soleus, vasti, gastrocnemius, gluteus medius, rectus femoris, and gluteus maximus. However, during crouch gait, these muscles are active throughout single-limb stance, in contrast to the modulation of muscle forces seen during single-limb stance in an unimpaired gait. Subjects walking in crouch gait rely more on proximal muscles, including the gluteus medius and hamstrings, to accelerate the mass center forward during single-limb stance than subjects with an unimpaired gait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2099-2105
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the staff of the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for collecting and sharing motion capture data. This work was funded by NIH R01-HD33929 , NIH R01-HD046814 , Roadmap for Medical Research U54GM072970 , and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Crouch gait
  • Dynamic simulation
  • Induced acceleration
  • Walking


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