The effect of speed on leg stiffness and joint kinetics in human running

J Biomech. 1999 Dec;32(12):1349-53. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(99)00133-5.


The goals of this study were to examine the following hypotheses: (a) there is a difference between the theoretically calculated (McMahon and Cheng, 1990. Journal of Biomechanics 23, 65-78) and the kinematically measured length changes of the spring-mass model and (b) the leg spring stiffness, the ankle spring stiffness and the knee spring stiffness are influenced by running speed. Thirteen athletes took part in this study. Force was measured using a "Kistler" force plate (1000 Hz). Kinematic data were recorded using two high-speed (120 Hz) video cameras. Each athlete completed trials running at five different velocities (approx. 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 m/s). Running velocity influences the leg spring stiffness, the effective vertical spring stiffness and the spring stiffness at the knee joint. The spring stiffness at the ankle joint showed no statistical difference (p < 0.05) for the five velocities. The theoretically calculated length change of the spring-mass model significantly (p < 0.05) overestimated the actual length change. For running velocities up to 6.5 m/s the leg spring stiffness is influenced mostly by changes in stiffness at the knee joint.

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Running / physiology*