Studies investigating the effect of targeting on gait have focused on the analysis of ground reaction force (GRF) within the time domain. Analysis within the frequency domain may be a more sensitive method for evaluating variations in GRF. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of visual targeting on GRF analyzed within the frequency domain. A within-subject repeated-measures design was used to measure the mediolateral, vertical, and antero-posterior components of the GRF of 11 healthy volunteers while walking at their own pace over a paper-covered walkway. A 30 × 24-cm target area was superimposed over a hidden Kistler force plate mounted at the midpoint of the walkway. GRF were recorded with and without the target and were analyzed within the frequency domain. Although visually guided foot placement has previously been undetected by traditional time-domain measures, targeting was found to significantly increase the frequency content of both the mediolateral (t10 = -4.07, p < 0.05) and antero-posterior (t10 = -2.52, p < 0.05) components of GRF. Consequently, it appears that frequency analysis is a more sensitive analytic technique for evaluating GRF. These findings have methodological implications for research in which GRF is used to characterize and assess anomalies in gait patterns.
The authors are with Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove, Qld 4059, Australia. Scott Wearing is with the Centre for Public Health Research, School of Public Health; James Smeathers is with the School of Human Movement Studies; Stephen Urry is with the School of Public Health.