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Landing-Takeoff Asymmetries Applied to Running Mechanics: A New Perspective for Performance


Landing-Takeoff Asymmetries Applied to Running Mechanics: A New Perspective for Performance

Rodrigo Gomes da Rosa et al. Front Physiol.


Background: Elastic bouncing is a physio-mechanical model that can elucidate running behavior in different situations, including landing and takeoff patterns and the characteristics of the muscle-tendon units during stretch and recoil in running. An increase in running speed improves the body's elastic mechanisms. Although some measures of elastic bouncing are usually carried out, a general description of the elastic mechanism has not been explored in running performance. This study aimed to compare elastic bouncing parameters between the higher- and lower-performing athletes in a 3000 m test.

Methods: Thirty-eight endurance runners (men) were divided into two groups based on 3000 m performance: the high-performance group (Phigh; n = 19; age: 29 ± 5 years; mass: 72.9 ± 10 kg; stature: 177 ± 8 cm; 3000time: 656 ± 32 s) and the low-performance group (Plow; n = 19; age: 32 ± 6 years; mass: 73.9 ± 7 kg; stature: 175 ± 5 cm; 3000time: 751 ± 29 s). They performed three tests on different days: (i) 3000 m on a track; (ii) incremental running test; and (iii) a running biomechanical test on a treadmill at 13 different speeds from 8 to 20 km h-1. Performance was evaluated using the race time of the 3000 m test. The biomechanics variables included effective contact time (t ce), aerial time (t ae), positive work time (t push), negative work time (t break), step frequency (f step), and elastic system frequency (f sist), vertical displacement (S v) in t ce and t ae (S ce and S ae), vertical force, and vertical stiffness were evaluated in a biomechanical submaximal test on treadmill.

Results: The t ae, f sist, vertical force and stiffness were higher (p < 0.05) and t ce and f step were lower (p < 0.05) in Phigh, with no differences between groups in t push and t break.

Conclusion: The elastic bouncing was optimized in runners of the best performance level, demonstrating a better use of elastic components.

Keywords: biomechanics; forces; kinetic; muscle function; physical endurance; spring-mass system.


Representative figure for the vertical ground reaction force, external mechanical energy, and two main temporal asymmetries during running at 13 km h−1. The letters indicate the discrete points defining the main phases of spring-mass model: (A) landing, (B) downward equilibrium point (instant where body weight equals to vertical ground reaction forces (GRF) during downward trajectory of the body), (C) maximal vertical force and transition between negative and positive work, (D) upward equilibrium point (instant where body weight equals to vertical GRF during upward trajectory of the body), (E) takeoff, (F) second downward equilibrium point. The effective contact time (tce, BD, in red) and the effective aerial time (tae, DF, in blue) represent the asymmetry of rebound. The positive work time (tpush, CE, in yellow) and negative work time (tbrake, AC, in green) represent the landing-takeoff asymmetry. The horizontal dashed black line in the superior panel denotes the body weight. The vertical dashed black line in the inferior panel indicates the transition instant between negative and positive work.
Mean and standard deviation in aerial and contact times, effective aerial, and contact times, tpush and tbrake durations plotted as a function of the speed. Left show Phigh and right Plow. The represents significant difference between the groups.
Mean and standard deviation of the vertical stiffness (kvert) in the top chart and relative vertical force (Fv) in the lower chart, for vertical distance traveled, is plotted as a function of the speed. The black square represents the Phigh and the open square represents the Plow. The represents significant difference between the groups.
Mean and standard deviation of the frequency parameters at each speed for both groups. The black circles show the natural frequency of the system (fsist) in Phigh and the open circles show Plow. The black squares show the step frequency (fstep) in Phigh and the open squares show Plow. The lines represent the polynomials of the second order function, the black color represents Phigh, and the gray represents the Plow. Its only purpose is to facilitate the viewing of results. The represents differences between the groups.
Vertical displacements of BCoM (Sv) during contact time (Sc), aerial time (Sa), effective aerial time (Sae), effective contact time (Sae), and step length (L). The gray bars are related to the left axis and the black circles to the right axis.

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