For all the talks about how humans have evolved over centuries, here’s something to surprise you. It turns out, we haven’t quite mastered the whole walking-on-two-feet art yet, suggests a recent study.
The study by Indiana’s Purdue University found that despite having thousands of years of practice, humans are surprisingly bad at walking. Kinesiologists enrolled 94 undergraduates with an average age of 19 and found that falling over wasn’t just associated with old age, suggesting that walking is “inherently difficult” for humans.
Over 16 weeks, each of the volunteers received an email in the morning, asking whether they had had a fall in the past 24 hours. At the end of the experiment, the students had reported a total of 1495 trips and slips, while 82 full-blown falls were reported by 46 participants. That amounts to 52% of the sample.
The majority of falls occurred while walking (58%) and the main cause of the fall was a slip (48%) or trip (25%), the experts found. They wrote that the fact that the majority of falls occurred while walking supports the prevailing argument that bipeds are mechanically unstable and also demonstrates that walking is a challenging task. These results address an understudied yet important question, and highlight the mechanically unstable nature of bipedal locomotion.
They concluded that the high fall and injury rate in a short interval reflects the inherent instability of bipedal locomotion and indicates that falls are not a trivial problem for young adults. The study is published in the journal Human Movement Science.