Paralympic athlete runningClare Small 106 and 111
phone: 303-492-0926
fax: 303-492-4009

Research Interests

  • The biomechanical and metabolic effects of prostheses and exoskeletons on walking, running, hopping, and sprinting.


  • Director: Alena Grabowski, PhD.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows: Janet Zhang, Harald Penasso
  • Graduate Students: Ryan Alcantara, Stephen Allen, Kara Ashcraft, Zane Colvin, Caelyn Hirschman, Josh Tacca
  • Collaborators: Christopher Arellano, Ph.D., Brown University; William Byrnes, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Susan D'Andrea, Ph.D., Providence VAMC; Hugh Herr, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Trevor Kingsbury, Ph.D. Naval Medical Center San Diego; Rodger Kram, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; William McDermott, Ph.D., The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, Utah; Craig McGowan, Ph.D., University of Idaho; Justus Ortega, Ph.D., Humboldt State University; Mark Rentschler, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Anne Silverman, Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines.

Grabowski Lab 2018

(L to R): Stephen Allen, Alena Grabowski, Adrian Muller, Ryan Alcantara, Kara Ashcraft, Emily Drees, Vani Sundaram, Josh Tacca.

Current Research Projects

  • What is the optimal stiffness and height of a running-specific leg prosthesis? (Ashcraft, Tacca, Grabowski)
  • Can sensory feedback training improve the biomechanical and metabolic effects of using passive or powered lower limb prostheses during walking for Veterans with transtibial amputations? (Hirschman, Zhang, Grabowski)
  • How do lower limb prosthetic stiffness and power affect the biomechanics, metabolic costs, and satisfaction of Veterans with transtibial amputations during walking?” (Colvin, Tacca, Grabowski)
  • Understanding the effects of a springy leg exoskeleton during hopping and running (Allen, Tacca, Grabowski)
  • What is the optimal stiffness of a pediatric prosthetic foot? (Ashcraft, Grabowski)
  • How does in-series or running-specific prosthetic stiffness affect long jump performance? (Ashcraft, Grabowski)
  • How does use of a running-specific leg prosthesis affect curve-running performance? (Alcantara, Grabowski)
  • Optimizing orthotic and prosthetic components for military women with limb salvage or amputation. (Ashcraft, Grabowski)
  • Integration of biomechanics-based informatics for prevention of stress fractures (Alcantara, Grabowski)
  • Optimizing prosthetic and bicycle fit for Veterans with transtibial amputations (Allen, Grabowski)

Opportunities for Undergraduates

The requirements for undergraduate students who would like research experience in our Lab 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. Alena Grabowski ( Unfortunately, due to high demand, we cannot accommodate all qualified students.

Recent Publications

  • SP Allen & AM Grabowski. A passive exoskeleton with different linear or non-linear spring stiffness in parallel to the legs effects metabolic cost and biomechanics during hopping. Journal of Applied Physiology Published Online: 20 JUN 2019
  • J Funken, S Willwacher, K Heinrich, R Müller, H Hobara, AM Grabowski, & W Potthast Long jumpers with and without a transtibial amputation have different 3D centre of mass and joint take-off step kinematics. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise April 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 4 - p 716–725 doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001853
  • H Hobara, S Hashizume, J Funken, S Willwacher, R Müller, AM Grabowski, and W Potthast. Vertical stiffness during one-legged hopping with and without using a running-specific prosthesis. Journal of Biomechanics 2019 86: 34-39.
  • N Kashiri, A Abate, SJ Abram, A Albu-Schaffer, PJ Clary, M Daley, S Faraji, R Furnemont, M Garabini, H Geyer, AM Grabowski, J Hurst, J Malzahn, G Mathijssen, D Remy, W Roozing, M Shahbazi, SN Simha, J-B Song, N Smit-Anseeuw, S Stramigioli, B Vanderborght, Y Yesilevskiy, and N Tsagarakis. An Overview on Principles for Energy Efficient Robot Locomotion. Frontiers in Robotics and AI 2018 5 (129). DOI=10.3389/frobt.2018.00129
  • J Funken, S Willwacher, K Heinrich, R Müller, H Hobara, AM Grabowski & W Potthast. Three dimensional take-off step kinetics of long jumpers with and without a transtibial amputation. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2018 Nov 26. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001853. [Epub ahead of print]
  • DF Feeney, RA Capobianco, JR Jeffers, AM Grabowski, and RM Enoka. Individuals with sacroiliac joint dysfunction display asymmetrical gait and a depressed synergy between muscles providing sacroiliac joint force closure when walking Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2018 Dec; 43:95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2018.09.009. Epub 2018 Sep 22.
  • ON Beck & AM Grabowski. Athletes with Versus Without Leg Amputations: Different Biomechanics, Similar Running Economy. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews Published online Oct 16, 2018 doi: 10.1249/jes.0000000000000174
  • JR Montgomery (Jeffers) & AM Grabowski. Use of a Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis Reduces the Metabolic Cost of Uphill Walking and Improves Leg Work Symmetry in People with Transtibial Amputations. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2018 Aug;15(145). pii: 20180442. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0442
  • ON Beck, AM Grabowski & JD Ortega. Neither total muscle activation nor co-activation explains the youthful walking economy of older runners. Gait and Posture 65 (2018) 163-168
  • JR Montgomery (Jeffers) & AM Grabowski. The contributions of ankle, knee and hip joint work to individual leg work change during uphill and downhill walking over a range of speeds. Royal Society Open Science Published 29 August 2018.DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180550
  • S Kipp, AM Grabowski, & R Kram. What determines the metabolic cost of human running across a wide range of velocities? Journal of Experimental Biology 2018 : jeb.184218 doi: 10.1242/jeb.184218 Published 31 July 2018
  • ON Beck, EN Azua & AM Grabowski. Step time asymmetry increases metabolic energy expenditure during running European Journal of Applied Physiology
  • RA Capobianco, DF Feeney, JR Jeffers, J Morreale, RM Enoka, & AM Grabowski. Patients with sacroiliac joint dysfunction exhibit altered movement strategies when performing a sit-to-stand task. The Spine Journal DOI:
  • ON Beck & AM Grabowski. The biomechanics of the fastest sprinter with a unilateral transtibial amputation. Journal of Applied Physiology 124: 641–645, 2018. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00737.2017
  • M Batliner, S Kipp, AM Grabowski, R Kram, & W Byrnes. Does metabolic rate increase linearly with running speed in all distance runners? Sports Medicine International Open 2017; 2018; 2: E1–E8.