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Development of Independent Walking in Toddlers

Ivanenko, Yuri P.1; Dominici, Nadia1,2; Lacquaniti, Francesco1,2,3

Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews: April 2007 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 67-73
doi: 10.1249/JES.0b013e31803eafa8

Surprisingly, despite millions of years of bipedal walking evolution, the gravity-related pendulum mechanism of walking does not seem to be implemented at the onset of independent walking, requiring each toddler to develop it. We discuss the precursor of the mature locomotor pattern in infants as an optimal starting point strategy for gait maturation.

We argue that the pendulum mechanism of walking may not be innate, but is learned through walking experience.

1Department of Neuromotor Physiology, IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia; 2Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome Tor Vergata; and 3Centre of Space Bio-medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

Address for correspondence: Yuri P. Ivanenko, Ph.D., Department of Neuromotor Physiology, Scientific Institute Foundation Santa Lucia, 306 via Ardeatina, 00179 Rome, Italy (E-mail:

Accepted for publication: November 8, 2006.

Associate Editor: E. Paul Zehr, Ph.D.

© 2007 American College of Sports Medicine