Energy absorption of impacts during running at various stride lengths


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Applied Sciences: Biodynamics

Purpose: The foot-ground impact experienced during running produces a shock wave that is transmitted through the human skeletal system. This shock wave is attenuated by deformation of the ground/shoe as well as deformation of biological tissues in the body. The goal of this study was to investigate the locus of energy absorption during the impact phase of the running cycle.

Methods: Running speed (3.83 m·s-1) was kept constant across five stride length conditions: preferred stride length (PSL), +10% of PSL, -10% of PSL, +20% of PSL, and -20% of PSL. Transfer functions were generated from accelerometers attached to the leg and head of ten male runners. A rigid body model was used to estimate the net energy absorbed at the hip, knee, and ankle joints.

Results: There was an increasing degree of shock attenuation as stride length increased. The energy absorbed during the impact portion of the running cycle also increased with stride length. Muscles that cross the knee joint showed the greatest adjustment in response to increased shock.

Conclusion: It was postulated that the increased perpendicular distance from the line of action of the resultant ground reaction force to the knee joint center played a role in this increased energy absorption.

Author Information

Department of Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011; and Department of Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

Submitted for publication March 1997.

Accepted for publication August 1997.

©1998The American College of Sports Medicine