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#1
Old 10-16-2007, 09:55 AM
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Is skipping a more efficient gait than walking or running?

This past weekend I was over at a buddy's house while his daughter and her friends were playing in the backyard. The kids were skipping up and down the driveway as part of some game they were playing and never seemed to get tired, so my buddy and I got to wondering if skipping was a better way to move faster and use less energy.

Being hopeless dweebs we did our own experiments, taking turns walking fast, skipping and running down the driveway. (Yeah, two grown men were skipping, tra la la la la. Who cares what the neighbors think.) Anyway, skipping at a moderate pace wasn't as fast as running, obviously, but I think we probably could have done it for a lot longer. It sure beat fast walking in terms of ground covered in a given amount of time, not that I think skipping will ever replace double-time marches in the army.

Does anybody know if real studies have been done on the biomechanics of skipping in comparison to walking or running? Is skipping really more efficient, or does it just seem that way?
#2
Old 10-16-2007, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fozzie Bear
not that I think skipping will ever replace double-time marches in the army.
You think not? Damn! And my plans for world domination were almost complete.

Quote:
Is skipping really more efficient, or does it just seem that way?
Until someone else turns up with some hard data, I'll just say that I don't see how it can be more efficient than walking, as it includes a fair bit of vertical motion.
#3
Old 10-16-2007, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Until someone else turns up with some hard data, I'll just say that I don't see how it can be more efficient than walking, as it includes a fair bit of vertical motion.
Well, a decent skip has a lot of forward motion as well as vertical. We were thinking that maybe the bit of spring in a skip would factor in somehow, a little like kangaroo hops.

Or maybe it was just the hops in the beer affecting our perceptions.
#4
Old 10-16-2007, 10:30 AM
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Anecdote alert!

I once had to skip for a quarter of a mile. Well, I suppose I didn't have to, I think I volunteered. It was part of a relay race, and our pool of potential teammates was small enough that even the non-athletic had to cooperate. And we didn't lose! (We came in 3rd of 4 teams. And an eternity behind teams one and two--and only beat team four because they had a mishap with the rowboat).

Anyway, I can walk forever--or at least for a lot longer than a quarter of a mile without feeling tired. I can run--or could when I was in better shape--for a lot longer than a quarter mile.

Long before my quarter mile was up, my hop step had shrunk to me "bouncing" in place on one foot, before taking my next walking step forward. It was tedious and somewhat embarassing.

Now, perhaps if you trained your hopping muscles more, it would be different. But in my experience, any efficiency is going to be wiped out by the endurance factor.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fozzie Bear
Well, a decent skip has a lot of forward motion as well as vertical. We were thinking that maybe the bit of spring in a skip would factor in somehow, a little like kangaroo hops.

Or maybe it was just the hops in the beer affecting our perceptions.
Hops, heh!

I remember a piece on a long distance runner who had an artificial leg and he ran by skipping on the good leg while the artificial leg could get back under his body to transfer the weight to it for a step and then he'd skip on the good leg again, repeat forever.
They mentioned that it was a surprisingly efficient mode of running for him but I don't have any data that would suggest that it would be so for the normal person.

Last edited by Uncommon Sense; 10-16-2007 at 10:34 AM.
#6
Old 10-16-2007, 12:38 PM
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I wonder if skipping is analogous to one of the gaits of a four-legged animal?
#7
Old 10-16-2007, 02:04 PM
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More efficient? Maybe. More fabulous? Definitely!
#8
Old 10-16-2007, 02:28 PM
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Walking is by far the most efficient method of locomotion. When walking, the legs act as pendulums, which can swing with very little input of energy. Running is tiring because you are forcing your legs to swing faster than the natural frequency of a leg-length pendulum. Skipping likewise, plus you're adding a lot of unnecessary up-and-down bouncing.
#9
Old 10-16-2007, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumpy
I wonder if skipping is analogous to one of the gaits of a four-legged animal?
A canter, maybe?
#10
Old 10-16-2007, 03:28 PM
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Skipping may not be more efficient, but it's more fun, for a short distance anyway. :-)
#11
Old 10-16-2007, 03:31 PM
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Here's a study (PDF) that may be of interest. According to figure 2, energy expenditure is higher for skipping than for running and walking but "apparent efficiency" for skipping is comparable to running or walking. I don't quite grok why that should be.
#12
Old 10-16-2007, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumpy
I wonder if skipping is analogous to one of the gaits of a four-legged animal?
I'll second the canter.
#13
Old 10-16-2007, 03:55 PM
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I vaguely remember a buddy of mine telling me a story(Urban Legend) about a previously undiscovered tribe of natives found in Africa or along the Amazon that used skipping as their only mode of locomotion. Supposedly it was way more efficient than running/walking. Any one else hear this?
#14
Old 10-16-2007, 04:07 PM
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If skipping were more efficient than running, wouldn't ultra-marathoners skip instead of run?
#15
Old 10-16-2007, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brazil84
If skipping were more efficient than running, wouldn't ultra-marathoners skip instead of run?
Yes.
#16
Old 10-16-2007, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alive At Both Ends
Walking is by far the most efficient method of locomotion.
Not on the moon, it seems!

Interesting paper, bibliophage, thanks. I'm having a little trouble keeping all the abbreviations straight in my head, but it seems that while skipping is more metabolically demanding, there is some energy recovery from the bouncing motion (elastic energy release, p. 1229).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasPlayboy
Quote:
Originally Posted by brazil84
If skipping were more efficient than running, wouldn't ultra-marathoners skip instead of run?
Yes.
Hah. Even if it were (and it seems it's not), can you imagine macho ultra-marathoners stooping to do it? Even the linked paper talks about skipping being an activity of young kids.
#17
Old 10-17-2007, 11:41 AM
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Just for poops and giggles I tried skipping on the treadmill at the gym. Not easier.
#18
Old 10-18-2007, 01:54 AM
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Type of shoes and type of surface. Makes a BIG difference in skipping efficiency.

When running down hill, long pauses in stride can be used to actually rest leg muscles as you wait to descend for the next stride. Not the fastest way to more nor does it work on all slope angles but ...... works for me....
#19
Old 10-18-2007, 05:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes
I'll second the canter.
I'll ask for a dissenting vote to be minuted. Other than "faster than walk, slower than outright run" there's not much comparison between a bipedal gait in which each foot is used for two successive steps before transferring to the other foot, and a quadrupedal gait in which nothing of the sort happens
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