Unconstrained slip mechanics and stepping reactions depend on slip onset timing

Corbin M. Rasmussen, Nathaniel H. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Slips can occur at any time during stance. Accordingly, time-dependent tangential ground reaction forces likely produce a diverse range of slipping foot mechanics when traction is lost, thus requiring flexible recovery strategies to prevent falls. However, previous research has focused on slip onset in early stance, often with experimental anteroposterior constraints on the slipping foot, despite the diversity of environmental slips and falls. This study aimed to determine the effects of slip onset time on slip direction, severity (distance and velocity), and compensatory stepping responses. Ten young adults received slipping perturbations at different times during the stance phase of walking via a wearable device that reduces available friction while allowing the slipping foot to slide freely within the horizontal plane. Slip direction, distance, and peak velocity, compensatory step direction and distance, and upper body angular momentum magnitude and plane of rotation were derived from kinematic data. All outcome measurements significantly correlated with the time of slip onset. Slip direction and the plane of rotation of angular momentum deviated widely from the sagittal plane, exhibiting laterally-directed components exceeding those in the anteroposterior direction. As slip onset occurred later in stance, slip severity decreased while compensatory steps became longer and progressed from a posterior to anterior placement. These results provide insight into critical times within stance when slips are most severe, and into the diversity of slipping mechanics caused by changes in slip onset time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110572
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Aug 26 2021


  • Angular momentum
  • Balance recovery
  • Falls
  • Gait
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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