Locomotion Laboratory

Clare 106 and 111

phone: 303-492-0926
fax: 303-492-4009

Research Interests

  • The biomechanics, energetics, and neural control of walking and running.

Personnel

  • Director: Rodger Kram, Ph.D.

  • Graduate Students: Alyse Kehler, Adam Carahalios.

  • Collaborators: Christopher Arellano, Ph.D., Brown University; Jamie Bartlett, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; William Byrnes, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Jason Franz, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Jinger Gottschall, Ph.D., Penn State University; Alena Grabowski, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Hans-Crister Holmberg, Ph.D., Mid-Sweden University; Wouter Hoogkamer, M.S., Catholic University of Leuven; William McDermott, Ph.D., The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, Utah; Justus Ortega, Ph.D., Humboldt State University.
(L to R): Alyse Kehler, Eliska Hajkova (on cross-country skis), Shalaya Kipp (on steeplechase barrier), Rodger Kram, Bryant Pham, Jesse Frank, Adam Carahalios.

Current Research Projects

  • Biomechanical Basis for the Energetic Cost of Human Walking (Arellano, Kram). Muscles must perform at least five functions during walking: (1) Generate muscular force to support body weight; (2) Perform mechanical work to redirect and restore the center of mass velocity during the step-to-step transition; (3) Swing the legs; (4) Swing the arms and (5) Maintain balance. We are performing a series of experiments that manipulate one or more of these functions so as to quantify the cost of each function in normal healthy adults.

  • The Biomechanics of Level, Uphill and Downhill Walking in Young and Elderly Adults (Franz, Kram). We are performing a series of experiments to understand the biomechanics of level, uphill and downhill walking at the individual leg, joint and muscle levels. Although most healthy elderly adults have little difficulty walking over level surfaces, walking uphill can lead to exhaustion. Accordingly, we are investigating how age-related changes in lower limb function during level walking affect uphill walking performance in the elderly.

  • Biomechanical Basis for the Energetic Cost of Human Running (Arellano, Hoogkamer, Ortega, Kram). In running, our research shows that generating force to support body weight is the major biomechanical factor determining metabolic cost. However, we have found that generating forward propulsive forces comprises about 30% of the cost of running and leg swing appears to consume about 10%. We continue to refine these ideas as to how the cost changes with age, speed and grade.

  • Comparative Locomotion Biomechanics and Energetics (Kram, McGowan). We occasionally study different animal species that exhibit exceptional locomotion. For example, we are initiating a study of the locomotor abilities of pronghorn and the unique bipedal behavior of the gerenuk, an African antelope.

  • Passive Cycling Energetics (Byrnes, Kram). We have discovered that a person's metabolic rate can be substantially increased by passive movement of their legs on a stationary bicycle powered by an electric motor. We are exploring if passive cycling can aid the treatment/prevention of obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic syndrome.

  • Biomechanics of Cross Country Skiing (Holmberg, Kehler, Kram). We are studying the forces, mechanical energy fluctuations and metabolic cost involved in classical style cross country skiing. We are investigating how cross country skiing is similar to and yet distinct from walking and running.

  • Biomechanics of Bicycle Saddles (Kram, Carahalios). We are investigating the saddle, handlebar and pedal forces involved in road cycling. We are also investigating the biomechanical determinants of saddle comfort and preference.

  • Biomechanics of Longboarding (Kram, Pham, Kehler). We are studying the forces, mechanical energy fluctuations and metabolic cost involved in longboarding (i.e. skateboarding) over level ground. We are investigating the biomechanics of why longboarding is metabolically cheaper than walking or running but more expensive than cycling.

  • Biomechanics of the Steeplechase (Kram, Kipp, Kehler). The steeplechase is 3000m long race in track and field competitions that involves negotiating hurdles and a 12 foot water jump. We are the first to measure the forces involved in this event and are particularly interested in the potential for injury during the landing from the water jump.

Opportunities for Undergraduates

  • The requirements for undergraduate students who want a research experience in our Laboratory are:
    • Completed at least one year in college.
    • Will be at CU for at least two more semesters.
    • Available for 8-10 hours of time per week in blocks of 2-4 hours at a time.
    • IPHY, MCDB, PSYCH, Applied Math, and Engineering majors are encouraged.

  • For more information, contact Prof. Rodger Kram ( rodger.kram@colorado.edu). Unfortunately, due to high demand, we cannot accommodate all qualified students.

Videos

Recent Publications