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Studying spontaneous synchronization of stepping as two individuals walk on side-by-side treadmills may be useful for understanding the control of bipedal locomotion and may have implications for gait rehabilitation. Existing data suggest that this behavior is related to differences in leg length, walkway slope, and overground speed between partners, and might be promoted by altering these variables. This idea was evaluated here as 24 pairs of subjects stepped on side-by-side treadmills under several conditions of relative speed and slope. Overall, pairings that demonstrated very little spontaneous synchronization with the same treadmill speed and slope exhibited significant increases in this behavior when one treadmill was manipulated. Conversely, pairings that demonstrated a tendency to synchronize under normal conditions exhibited significant decreases in this behavior when either treadmill was altered.
Jeff A. Nessler (Corresponding Author), Gerald Kephart, and Jason Cowell are with the Department of Kinesiology, California State University, San Marcos, CA. Charles J. De Leone is with the Department of Physics, California State University, San Marcos, CA.