Background: The health benefits of running based exercise programs are plentiful however the high rate of injury in these programs often reduces or eliminates exercise participation. Skipping has shorter steps, reduced vertical ground reaction forces (GRFs), and lower knee extensor torques, compared to running forming the basis of the present hypothesis that skipping would have lower tibio-femoral and patello-femoral joint contact forces.
Research question: The purpose of this study was to compare knee contact forces between skipping and running at the same speed. We also compared metabolic cost of these two gaits to examine the idea that the larger vertical displacement in skipping is a primary factor in its previously reported high metabolic cost.
Methods: The study evaluated joint contact forces through musculoskeletal modeling with GRF and 3D kinematic data and metabolic cost using oxygen consumption data from 20 young, healthy, trained participants as they skipped and ran on an instrumented treadmill at 2.68 m/s.
Results: Skipping, compared to running, had substantially lower tibio-femoral and patello-femoral joint contact forces and linear impulses on both per-step and per-kilometer (i.e. lower cumulative loads) bases and also 30% higher metabolic cost. The lower joint loads in skipping were directly associated with its shorter steps and the higher metabolic cost was directly associated to its larger vertical displacement through the stride.
Significance: As joint loads may predispose individuals to running related injuries, skipping presents an attractive alternative exercise modality with additional increased aerobic benefits.
Keywords: Exercise; Gait; Joint power; Joint torque; Kinematics; Kinetics; Locomotion.
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