The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of cross-slope on gait dynamics. Ten young adult males walked barefoot along an inclinable walkway. Ground reaction forces (GRFs), lower-limb joint kinematics, global pelvis orientation, functional leg-length, and joint reaction moments (JRMs) were measured. Statistical analyses revealed differences across limbs (up-slope [US] and down-slope [DS]) and inclinations (level; 0°; and cross-sloped, 6°). Adaptations included increases of nearly 300% in mediolateral GRFs (p < .001), functional shortening the US-limb and elongation of the DS-limb (p < .001), reduced step width (p = .024), asymmetrical changes in sagittal kinematics and JRM, and numerous pronounced coronal plane differences including increased US-hip adduction (and adductor moment) and decreased DS-hip adduction (and adductor moment). Data suggests that modest cross-slopes can induce substantial asymmetrical changes in gait dynamics and may represent a physical obstacle to populations with restricted mobility.
Dixon and Pearsall are with the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.