The movement of the upper extremities is important for balance control in human walking. However, it is still unknown which mode of arm swing ensures the most stable gait due to the lack of appropriate measures which can quantify the movement of the upper extremities. In this study, we formulate a new parameter to numerically describe the arm swing. We investigated the effect of walking speed, sports activities and the subject’s BMI on the movement of the upper limbs.
Data of healthy 50 subjects from an external database was used. We used a human gait database for this analysis. All experimental trials were performed in Centre National de Rééducation Fonctionnelle et de Réadaptation – Rehazenter in Laboratoire d’Analyse du Mouvement et de la Posture in Luxembourg. Participants were asked to walk on a straight level walkway at 5 different speeds: 0-0.4 m/s, 0.4-0.8 m/s, 0.8-1.2 m/s, self-selected spontaneous and fast speeds. The human motion was recorded by using a 10-camera optoelectronic system.
The amplitude of arm swing was greater in gait with self-selected fast speed then in slow walking. Higher walking speeds entailed also the more structured and repetitive movement of the upper extremities. For self-selected fast speed, the mean value of Pearson’s correlation coefficient between arm swing amplitude of the left and right side was 0.935 ± 0.102, 0.943 ± 0.073 and 0.973 ± 0.020 for the young, middle aged and elderly group respectively, while in slow walking it was in the range 0.393-0.633 (for the representatives of the three groups). Our results could suggest other factors which influence arm swing, such as obesity and doing asymmetric sports.
Our results suggest that choosing the lowest possible walking speed is not the best strategy as the most symmetric arm swing occurs during gait with self-selected speed.

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