A Biomechanical Analysis of the Long-Jump Technique of Elite Female Amputee Athletes


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 10 - pp 1829-1835
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000230211.60957.2e

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether female lower-limb amputees conform to the established long-jump model and to compare the kinematics of the approach and take-off phases for elite female transfemoral and transtibial amputee long jumpers.

Methods: Eight female transfemoral and nine female transtibial amputee athletes were videotaped (sagittal plane movements at 50 Hz) from third-to-last step to take-off during the 2004 Paralympic Games long-jump finals. After digitizing and reconstruction of 2D coordinates, key variables were calculated at each stride and during contact with the take-off board. Additionally, approach speed during the run-up of each jump was recorded (100 Hz) using a laser Doppler device (LDM 300 C Sport, Jenoptik Laser, Jena, Germany).

Results: The transfemoral amputees had a consistently higher center of mass height on the last three steps before take-off than the transtibial amputees. However, at touch-down onto the take-off board, they lowered their center of mass excessively so that from touch-down to take-off, they were actually lower than the transtibial amputees. This resulted in a greater negative vertical velocity at touch-down and may have inversely affected their jump performance.

Conclusion: Female transtibial athletes conformed to the long-jump model, although adaptations to this technique were displayed. Female transfemoral athletes, however, exhibited no relationship between take-off speed and distance jumped, which may be attributable to their excessive lowering of their center-of-mass height at touch-down onto the take-off board. It is recommended that coaches and athletes proceed with caution when trying to replicate techniques used by able-bodied athletes because adaptations to the constraints of a prosthesis should be considered.

1Laboratory for Biomechanics and Motor Control, Karolinska Institutet and The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, SWEDEN; 2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA; and 3Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Address for correspondence: Lee Nolan, Ph.D. Laboratory for Biomechanics and Motor Control, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet and The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Box 5626, Stockholm 114 86, Sweden; E-mail: lee.nolan@gih.se.

Submitted for publication October 2005.

Accepted for publication May 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine