Variability in energy cost and walking gait during race walking in competitive race walkers

BRISSWALTER, JEANICK; FOUGERON, BRUNO; LEGROS, PATRICK

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 1998 - Volume 30 - Issue 9 - pp 1451-1455
Applied Sciences: Biodynamics

Variability in energy cost and walking gait during race walking in competitive race walkers. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1451-1455, 1998.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the variability of energy cost (Cw) and race walking gait after a 3-h walk at the competition pace in race walkers of the same performance level.

Methods: Nine competitive race walkers were studied. In the same week, after a first test of V˙O2max determination, each subject completed two submaximal treadmill walks (6 min length, 0% grade, 12 km·h−1 speed) before and after a 3-h overground test completed at the individual competition speed of the race walker. During the two submaximal tests, subjects were filmed between the 2nd and the 4th min, and physiological parameters were recorded between the 4th and the 6th min.

Results: Results showed two trends. On the one hand, we observed a significant and systematic increase in energy cost of walking (mean ΔCw = 8.4%), whereas no variation in the gait kinematics prescribed by the rules of race walking was recorded. On the other hand, this increase in metabolic energy demand was accompanied by variations of different magnitude and direction of stride length, of the excursion of the heel and of the maximal ankle flexion at toe-off among the race walkers.

Conclusion: These results indicated that competitive race walkers are able to maintain their walking gait with exercise duration apart from a systematic increase in energy cost. Moreover, in this form of locomotion the effect of fatigue on the gait variability seems to be an individual function of the race walk constraints and the constraints of the performer.

Department of Applied Physiology and Health Factors, LAPMH, University of Poitiers, FRANCE

Submitted for publication July 1997.

Accepted for publication December 1997.

Address for correspondence: J. Brisswalter, LAPMH, Université de Poitiers, 4 allée J. Monnet, 86000 Poitiers, France. E-mail: lapmh@hermes.univ-poitiers.fr.

©1998The American College of Sports Medicine