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Horizontal Crank Position Affects Economy and Upper Limb Kinematics of Recumbent Handcyclists

STONE, BENJAMIN1; MASON, BARRY S.1; WARNER, MARTIN B.2,3; GOOSEY-TOLFREY, VICTORIA L.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 11 - p 2265–2273
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002062
APPLIED SCIENCES
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Purpose To determine the effects of horizontal crank position on economy and upper limb kinematics in recumbent handcycling.

Methods Fifteen trained handcyclists performed trials at 50% and 70% of their peak aerobic power output (POPeak), determined during a maximal exercise test, in each horizontal crank position. Four horizontal crank positions, 94%, 97%, 100%, and 103% of arm length, were investigated. Horizontal crank positions were defined as the distance between the acromion angle to the center of the handgrip, while the crank arm was parallel to the floor and pointing away from the participant. Economy and upper limb kinematics were calculated during the final minute of each 3-min trial.

Results Horizontal crank position significantly affected handcycling economy at 70% POPeak (P < 0.01) but not at 50% POPeak (P = 0.44). The 97% horizontal crank position (16.0 [1.5] mL·min−1·W−1) was significantly more economical than the 94% (16.7 (1.9) mL·min−1·W−1) (P = 0.04) and 103% (16.6 (1.7) mL·min−1·W−1) (P < 0.01) positions. The 100% horizontal crank position (16.2 (1.7) mL·min−1·W−1) was significantly more economical than the 103% position (P < 0.01). Statistical parametric mapping indicated that an increase in horizontal crank position, from 94% to 103%, caused a significant increase in elbow extension, shoulder flexion, adduction, internal rotation, scapular internal rotation, wrist flexion, clavicle depression and clavicle protraction between 0% and 50% (0°–180°) of the cycle (P < 0.05).

Conclusions Positioning the cranks at 97% to 100% of the athletes’ arm length improved handcycling economy at 70% POPeak as, potentially, the musculature surrounding the joints of the upper limb were in a more favorable position to produce force economically.

1Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UNITED KINGDOM

2School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, UNITED KINGDOM

3Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Ph.D., Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, LE113TU, United Kingdom; E-mail: V.L.Tolfrey@lboro.ac.uk.

Submitted for publication February 2019.

Accepted for publication June 2019.

Online date: June 7, 2019

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine