The kinematics of each joint of the guinea pig Cavia porcellus were studied during the locomotor cycle at increasing speed by high-speed cinefluorography. The main objective was to reveal the functional specific features of these structural elements in each dynamic phase of the cycle and also which limb joints are important during the increase of animal speed. Most of the analysed angles in C. porcellus were affected as the speed increased, both in trot and gallop. However, only a few of them were correlated with speed. There were also differences with respect to symmetrical or asymmetrical gaits. Both pairs of limbs responded differently to the increase of speed; while the forelimb joints modified the duration of their action (frequency) more than the amplitude (stride length), the hindlimbs acted inversely. The movements of the joints during the stance phase changed dramatically with speed, particularly in the hindlimb. At knee level, the flexion amplitude increases to maintain the stiffness of the leg spring, a principle previously discussed as essential for the running process. In the swing phase, inertial effects are the main constraints and, as in the stance phase, the knee joint in the swing phase is correlated with speed both during trot and gallop, confirming the major importance of this joint to increasing speed.
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