Quantification and Modeling of Ankle Stiffness during Standing Balance

Varun Nalam, Ermyntrude Adjei, Hyunglae Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigates the factors contributing to the modulation of ankle stiffness during standing balance and evaluates the reliability of linear stiffness models. Methods: A dual-axis robotic platform and a visual feedback display were used to quantify ankle stiffness in both the sagittal and frontal planes while subjects controlled different levels of ankle muscle co-contraction, center-of-pressure (CoP), and loading on the ankle. Results: Results of 40 subjects demonstrated that ankle stiffness in the sagittal plane linearly increased with the increasing level of these three factors. The linear model relating the change in these factors from the baseline measurements during quiet standing to the change in weight normalized ankle stiffness resulted in high reliability (R2 = 0.83). Ankle stiffness in the frontal plane increased with the increasing ankle muscle co-contraction and ankle loading, but the linearity was less obvious. It also exhibited a clear nonlinear trend when CoP was shifted mediolaterally. Consequently, the reliability of the linear model was low for ankle stiffness in the frontal plane (R2 = 0.37). Conclusion: During standing balance, ankle stiffness in the sagittal plane could be well explained by a linear model if ankle muscle activation, CoP, and ankle loading were collectively considered. However, the linear model cannot capture highly variable and nonlinear ankle stiffness characteristics in the frontal plane. Significance: The outcomes of this study could benefit the development of lower-extremity robots and their controllers. Furthermore, the ankle stiffness models could be used as a baseline in developing patient-specific ankle rehabilitation protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9195149
Pages (from-to)1828-1837
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Ankle impedance
  • Ankle stiffness
  • postural balance
  • stiffness model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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