SYDNEY, March. 8 (Xinhua) -- New research from the University of Queensland in Australia has examined human legs as though they were mechanical devices, to better understand how the mechanics of movement can assist us when accelerating.
"We had a group of healthy individuals walking on a treadmill and we accelerated the treadmill until they had to start to run," author of the study, Dominic Farris told Xinhua on Wednesday.
"On a very fundamental level this study will help us to better understand human locomotion and it can inform us about which muscles groups are important for accelerating and acting as motors and we could potentially think about training those muscles more," said Farris.
"To understand the changes that we make in the function of our joints in order to accelerate the body, we measured the force the subjects were applying to the ground and also used a motion capture system to reconstruct how their body moves in three dimensions."
The research attempted to pinpoint when the leg joints act like a "spring" and when they behave more like "motor".
"When we talk about a spring, it's something you have to first put energy into it. It will compress, energy is stored in it and then it rebounds to its original form," he said.
"So the benefit of acting like a spring is that it doesn't require as much energy to be input."
On the contrary, when the legs begin to accelerate more, they then take on the characteristics of a motor and this requires a constant supply of a lot more energy.
"We like things that do not require to much energy, so we are seeing a lot of springs devices in prosthetics and movement assistance devices," Farris said.
"But at other times they might have to look at it and say, we are going to need some kind of energy input source if we are going to be able to replicate what the human body does naturally."