Animation of an skipping gait simulation from Stability in skipping gaits

Alternative to walking and running humans are able to skip. However, adult humans avoid it. This fact seems to be related to the higher energetic costs associated with skipping. Still, children, some birds, lemurs and lizards use skipping gaits during daily locomotion. We combined experimental data on humans with numerical simulations to test whether stability and robustness motivate this choice. Parameters for modelling were obtained from 10 male subjects. They locomoted using unilateral skipping along a 12 m runway. We used the bipedal spring loaded inverted pendulum to model and to describe the dynamics of skipping. The subjects displayed higher peak ground reaction forces and leg stiffness in the first landing leg (trailing leg) compared to the second landing leg (leading leg). In numerical simulations, we found that skipping is stable across an amazing speed range from skipping on the spot to fast running speeds. Higher leg stiffness in the trailing leg permits longer strides at same system energy. However, this strategy is at the same time less robust to sudden drop perturbations than skipping with stiffness in the leading leg. A slightly higher stiffness in the leading leg is most robust, but might be costlier.