High vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) loading rates are thought to contribute to lower extremity injuries in runners. Given that elevated lower extremity stiffness has been reported to be associated with increased GRFs, the purpose of the current study was to determine if overall lower extremity stiffness, individual joint angular excursions and/or torsional stiffness are predictive of the average vGRF loading rate during running.
Forty heel strike runners (20 men and 20 women) ran overground at a speed of 3.4 m·s−1
. Average vGRF loading rate, lower extremity stiffness, and hip, knee, and ankle joint excursions and torsional stiffness from initial contact to the first peak of the vGRF were quantified. Stepwise multiple linear regression was performed to determine the best predictor(s) of average vGRF loading rate.
Lower extremity stiffness was found to the best predictor of average vGRF loading rate (R2
= 0.68, P
< 0.001). The second variable that entered the stepwise regression model of average vGRF loading rate was knee joint excursion
= 0.03, P
Increased lower extremity stiffness immediately after initial contact may expose heel strike runners to higher vGRF loading rates.