Human running on surfaces of different stiffnesses

eed and a 50 percent decrease in injuries.

The principles underlying the construction of these tracks rests with the expression of ksurf values - a combined measure of decreasing foot-ground contact time, increasing stride length, and decreasing the initial spike in peak vertical ground reaction force. Despite the success and popularity of these new tracks, the mechanisms resulting in enhanced performance are not clearly understood.

The team of Massachusetts researchers accepted the assumption that the running leg and surface could be represented as a simple spring and mass, with the leg spring having two stiffnesses (kleg and kvert)). The former is the actual leg stiffness describing the leg's musculoskeletal system during the support phrase and is calculated by the ratio of the peak vertical ground reaction force (the reaction to the force the body exerts on the ground) to the compression of the leg spring. The latter, kvert, is the vertical stiffness of the runner, providing the mechanism by which the direction of the downward velocity of the body is reversed during limb contact.

Previous studies have found that the knee joint is the major determinant for kleg as a function of speed in human running. Additional experimentation has revealed that a runner's center of mass deflection (maximum vertical displacement at the center of mass) remains constant regardless of the hardness of the surface, essentially the general principle of running mechanics. Therefore, by adjusting the leg spring to different surface values, the runner maintains uniform support mechanics.

To date, no research study has related the performance enhancements of running on surfaces with different stiffnesses to metabolic costs (the generating force necessary to support body weight).

The goal of the research study was to relate human running biomechanics to energetics (changes in energy to a physical or chemical reaction) on surfaces of differen

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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