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The application of impedance control strategies to modern legged locomotion is analyzed, paying special attention to the concepts behind its implementation which is not straightforward. In order to implement a functional impedance controller for a walking mechanism, the concepts of contact, impact, friction, and impedance have to be merged together. A literature review and a comprehensive analysis are presented compiling all these concepts along with a discussion on position-based versus force-based impedance control approaches, and a theoretical model of a robotic leg in contact with its environment is introduced. A theoretical control scheme for the legs of a general legged robot is also introduced, and some simulations results are presented.