During walking, uneven terrain alters the action of the ground reaction force from stride to stride. The extent to which such environmental inconsistencies are withstood may be revealed by the regulation of whole-body angular momentum (L) during walking. L quantifies the balance of momenta of the body segments (thigh, trunk, etc.) about their combined center of mass, and remains close to zero during level walking. A failure to constrain L has been linked to falls. The aim of this study was to explore the ability of young adults to orchestrate their movement on uneven terrain, illustrated by the range of L (LR) and its variability (vLR). In eleven male adults, we observed significant increases in sagittal plane LR, and vLR in all three planes of motion during walking on an uneven in comparison to a flat surface. No reductions in these measures were observed within a 12-minute familiarisation period, suggesting that unimpaired adults either are unable to, or do not need to eliminate the effects of uneven terrain. Transverse plane LR, in contrast, was lower on immediate exposure, and then increased, pointing to the development of a less restrictive movement pattern, and would support the latter hypothesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas