Loping: A Strategy for Reduced Gravity Human Locomotion? 2007-01-3134
Loping, defined here as skipping without a foot exchange, is a gait uncommonly used by humans on Earth, but favored by Apollo astronauts during lunar surface excursions. Astronauts may have adopted loping due to space suit-imposed mobility restrictions or because of a possible stability advantage conferred by a relatively constant and wide support base. To evaluate whether loping confers metabolic advantages we monitored ten subjects during loping and running, simulating reduced gravity via partial body suspension, and simulating suited conditions using a lower body exoskeleton. In lunar gravity, loping incurred lower metabolic costs than running for every subject; loping, while efficient at low gravity levels, was less efficient than running in Earth gravity. Loping combines the energy conversion characteristics of walking and running; loping may confer an even larger metabolic advantage during lunar space-suited locomotion due to mobility limitations not associated with the exoskeleton.