Blood flows toward the heart through collapsible vessels, the veins. The equations of flow in collapsible tubes in motion show a strong dependence on body forces resulting from gravity and acceleration. This paper analyzes the contribution of body forces to venous blood flow during walking on level ground. It combines the biomechanics of gait and theory of collapsible tubes to point out that body forces due to gravity and limb acceleration cannot be overlooked when considering the determinants of venous blood flow during locomotion. The study involved the development of a kinematic model of the limb as a multi-pendulum arrangement in which the limb segments undergo angular displacements. Angular velocities and accelerations were determined and the body forces were calculated during various phases of the gait cycle. A vascular model of the leg's major venous system was also constructed, and the accelerations due to body and gravity forces were calculated in specific venous segments, using the data from the kinematic model. The results showed there were large, fast variations in the axial component (Gx–Mx) of the body forces in veins between the hip and the ankle. Acceleration peaks down to –2G were obtained at normal locomotion. At fast locomotion, a distal vein in the shank displayed values of (Gx–Mx)/G equal to –3.2. Given the down-to-up orientation of the x-axis, the axial component Mx was usually positive in the axial veins, and Mx could shift from positive to negative during the gait cycle in the popliteal vein and the dorsal venous arch.
Laboratoires Innothera, 7-9 Av. François-Vincent Raspail, BP 35-94110 Arcueil, France
Laboratoire de Biomécanique et Biomatériaux Ostéo-Articulaires, Université Paris 12–Val de Marne, 61 Av. du Général De Gaulle, 94010 Créteil cedex, France.