Human running on surfaces of different stiffnesses

Results of a study by a Harvard University research team appear in the February 2002 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology

(March 12, 2002) -- Bethesda, MD -- The loss of a leg or severe leg injury can be devastating. In addition, even the most advanced prosthetic and orthotic devices have not adequately responded to changes in ground surface or walking speed. But a new study that examines running on different surfaces could possibly assist in the development of advanced prosthetic devices that change stiffness in response to speed and ground variations.

A Harvard research team conducted the study, entitled Energetics And Mechanics of Human Running on Surfaces of Different Stiffnesses. The investigators are Amy E. Kerdok and Thomas A. McMahon, both from the Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Division of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Andrew A. Biewener, Concord Field Station, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Bedford, MA; Peter G. Weyand, Concord Field Station, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University and the United States Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA; and Hugh M. Herr, affiliated with Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard University, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA. Their findings appear in the February 2002 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.


For the Olympic runner in training, there is nothing more ideal than a "tuned track," running facilities designed with surface to enhance performance and decrease injuries. Presently, Harvard University, Yale University, and Madison Square Garden all have these specialized tracks, resulting in a recorded three percent increase in running sp

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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