Human locomotion is defined by bilateral coordination of gait (BCG) and shared features with the fore-hindlimb coordination of quadrupeds. The objective of the present study is to explore the influence of arm swinging (AS) on BCG. Sixteen young, healthy individuals (eight women; eight right motor-dominant, eight left-motor dominant) participated. Participants performed 10 walking trials (2 min). In each of the trials AS was unilaterally manipulated (e.g., arm restriction, weight on the wrist), bilaterally manipulated, or not manipulated. The order of trials was random. Walking trials were performed on a treadmill. Gait kinematics were recorded by a motion capture system. Using feedback-controlled belt speed allowed the participants to walk at a self-determined gait speed. Effects of the manipulations were assessed by AS amplitudes and the phase coordination index (PCI), which quantifies the left-right anti-phased stepping pattern. Most of the AS manipulations caused an increase in PCI values (i.e., reduced lower limb coordination). Unilateral AS manipulation had a reciprocal effect on the AS amplitude of the other arm such that, for example, over-swinging of the right arm led to a decrease in the AS amplitude of the left arm. Side of motor dominance was not found to have a significant impact on PCI and AS amplitude. The present findings suggest that lower limb BCG is markedly influenced by the rhythmic AS during walking. It may thus be important for gait rehabilitation programs targeting BCG to take AS into account. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Control mechanisms for four-limb coordination in human locomotion are not fully known. To study the influence of arm swinging (AS) on bilateral coordination of the lower limbs during walking, we introduced a split-AS paradigm in young, healthy adults. AS manipulations caused deterioration in the antiphased stepping pattern and impacted the AS amplitudes for the contralateral arm, suggesting that lower limb coordination is markedly influenced by the rhythmic AS during walking.
- Arm swinging
- Bilateral coordination of gait
- Gait symmetry