In a study making a comparison between human running and walking motions, and if the knees, ankles or hips or are the most significant power sources for those motions, scientists demonstrate that the ankles generate most of the power when we run, but the hips generate most of the power when we walk. Knees give about 1 fifth or less of running or walking power.
The research reveals that, in general, hips produce more power when we walk. That’s until we reach the stage at which we’re speed walking, when we walk so quickly that it’s more comfortable to run, at 2 meters a second. The hips produce 44% of the power when walking at a pace of 2 meters a second, with ankles giving 39% of the power.
When we begin to run at this 2 meter/second pace, the ankles really start working, providing 47% of the power in comparison to 32% for the hips. The ankles still supply more of the power of the 3 lower limb joints as the running speed increases, even though the hips start closing the distance at faster speeds.
For the study, 10 individuals ran and walked at different speeds on a uniquely designed treadmill; several cameras captured their gait with monitoring reflective markers placed on different parts of the individuals’ lower limbs as the treadmill collected data from the applied force.
The research looked at running and walking on level ground so as to gauge the differences caused by increased speed; running and walking on inclined ground is essentially different than running and walking on flat ground, and would probably alter the power generation results in favor of the knees and hips.