Cyclic impacts on heel strike: a possible biomechanical factor in the etiology of degenerative disease of the human locomotor system

The cyclic impacts induced by heel strike when walking were studied using both a high-resonance-frequency force plate and a low-mass skin-mounted accelerometer. The data were computer analyzed. The results showed that during normal human walking, the locomotor system is subjected to repetitive impact loads at heel strike, lasting about 5 ms and consisting of frequency spectra up to and above 100 Hz. The natural shock-absorbing structures in the musculoskeletal system have viscoelastic time-dependent mechanical behavior, which is relatively ineffective in withstanding sudden impulsive loads. Degenerative joint diseases may thus be seen as a late clinical result of fatigue failure of the natural shock absorbers, submitted to deleterious impacts over a period of time.

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