The Effects of Railroad Ballast Surface and Slope on Rearfoot Motion in Walking

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Texas Woman’s University
  • | 2 Biomec Services, LLC
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of transversely sloped ballasted walking surface on gait and rearfoot motion (RFM) parameters. Motion analysis was performed with 20 healthy participants (15 male and 5 female) walking in six surface-slope conditions: two surfaces (solid and ballasted) by three slopes (0, 5, and 10 degrees). The gait parameters (walking velocity, step length, step rate, step width, stance time, and toe-out angle) showed significant surface effect (p = .004) and surface-slope interaction (p = .017). The RFM motion parameters (peak everted/inverted position, eversion/inversion velocity, and acceleration) revealed significant surface (p = .004) and slope (p = .024) effects. The ballasted conditions showed more cautious gait patterns with lower walk velocity, step length, and step rate and longer stance time. In the RFM parameters, the slope effect was more notable in the solid conditions due to the gait adaptations in the ballasted conditions. Ballast conditions showed reduced inversion and increased eversion and RFM range. The RFM data were comparable to other typical walking conditions but smaller than those from running.

Young-Hoo Kwon (Corresponding Author), Lonn Hutcheson, Jeffrey B. Casebolt, Joong-Hyun Ryu, and Kunal Singhal are with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas. Lonn Hutcheson is also with Biomec Services, LLC, Highland Village, Texas.