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Biomechanics of Running

• A form of locomotion • A modification of walking • Differs from walking in;
– One phase: neither foot is contact with the ground – No phase: both feet in contact with the ground

• All determinants of walking are prominent in running
– Pelvic rotation – Pelvic tilt – Lateral motion of pelvic – Motion of hip, knee, foot and ankle

Running – A Gait Cycle

• Contact Phase • Flight Phase

Contact Phase
• Support Phase
– One foot in contact with ground

• Foot Strike-Mid SupportTake off

Flight Phase
• Swinging through the air • Increases with increased running speed • Clearance of foot from ground:
– Ankle dorsiflexion – Knee flexion – Hip flexion

Running Stride

• Step length • Stride length • Foot strike (heel strike) • Cycle or stride time

Running Terminology

• Stride rate • Nonsupport phase • Support phase (stance phase)

• Stride length • Arm action

Mechanics of Running
• Knee action • Hip action • Support and nonsupport time • Trunk angle

• Center of gravity • Speed/tension • Foot position

Step and Stride
• Step
– The moment when foot terminates contact with the ground and continues until the opposite foot contacts the surface

• Stride
– The termination of contact of foot with the ground through the next contact of the same foot – 2 steps

Stride Length
• Take off distance
– Horizontal distance that CG is FW of toe of take off foot when leaving the ground

• Flight distance
– Horizontal distance that CG travels while in the air

• Landing distance
– Horizontal distance that toe of leading foot is FW of CG at landing

Stride Length
• Depends on:
– Leg length – ROM of hip – Strength of leg extensors

Stride Frequency
• Number of strides athletes takes in a given time

• Depends on:
– Speed of muscle contraction – Skill of running

Stride Frequency
• Regarded as the sum of
– Time during contact the ground – Time spent in the air

• Ratio
– 2 : 1 during start – 1 : 1.3 and 1 : 1.5 at max speed

Relationship between SL and SF
• Speed of the run = SL x SF where; SL = Stride length

SF = Stride frequency (Hoffman;1971, Teeple; 1968, Sparks; 1974)

Relationship between SL and SF
• Long stride + high frequency = fast runner • Short stride + low frequency = distance runner => conserve energy • Men 4.87 m (16ft) 5 steps/s • Women 3.65-4.26 m (12-14 ft) 4 steps/s

• Very close relationship between height and SL

Relationship between SL and SF
– SL = 1.14 times of height – SL = 2.11 times of leg length

• SF decreases as height and leg length increase • Average max SL = 1.24 times of height

Foot Position
• Depends on velocity of the run • The contact is first made :
– Heel strike the ground first better for long distance
• Heel pad can absorb high impact force

• Midfoot strike (whole foot strike) • Forefoot strike
– Used in sprinting

Foot Position
• Foot:
– Slight supination – External rotation of tibia

• To absorb impact in striking ground:
– Rapid extension of hip – Internal rotation of tibia – Pronation of subtalar joint

Running Efficiency
• Decrease vertical displacement of Center of Mass • Foot strike close to line of gravity • Decrease lateral movements • Shortening of swing leg

Skilled and Unskilled Runners
• At the beginning of flight phase
– Skilled runners have greater knee and hip flexion in leading limb

• At the beginning of contact phase
– Skilled runners have greater knee flexion of rear limb, bringing the heel closer to buttock

Skilled and Unskilled Runners

Foot Position

Stride Length














• (a) On your marks • (b) Set
– Lift knee of back leg and elevate hips – Shift CG forward

• (c-e) Go
– Swing arms vigorously – Forceful extension of both legs drives body forward

Sprint Start
• Crouch start places in position to move CG rapidly ahead of feet
– Bunch or bullet; foot length (10-12 inches) – Medium; shank length-1/2 of front foot ( 16-21 inches) – Elongated; shank length ( 24-28 inches)

Starting Block

Sprint Starting Mechanics
• Block spacing vary from 11-15 inches according to leg length • Front knee joint angle should be near 900 • Rear leg is near extension to apply max thrust • The greatest horizontal force against blocks was exerted by rear foot

Sprinting in Action

Sprinter in Action
• Foot strike on outside border of foot near ball • Foot-down position with feet completely flat • Toes ready to leave surface • Both feet are off the ground (nonsupport) • Rear foot lift • Knee lift in front • High knee lift and long stride potential • Foot strike

Action of Legs
• Supporting phase
– Foot lands to CG pass FW

• Driving phase
– First phase ends to foot leave the ground

• Recovery phase
– Foot is off the ground and prepare to next landing

Supporting Phase
• Arrest athletes downward motion • To allow to move into drive body forward and upward into next stride with min loss of momentum • Increase flexion of hip, knee and ankle to cushion shock of impact

Driving Phase
• To drive or thrust downward and backward against ground • Extensor muscles of hip, knee and ankle exert force in determining body’s velocity at “take off”

Recovery Phase
• Bring foot forward from behind to the point at which makes next contact

Action of Arms
• Contrary reactions in upper body due to rotary actions of hips • Flex arm at elbow and swing bw, fw and slightly iw • Fw limit; shoulder height • Bw limit; behind hip

Action of Trunk

Middle and Long Distance Running

Middle and Long Distance Running

Muscle Activity in Running
• Glut. Max. & med. - active at the beginning of the stance phase (concentrically) and again at the end of the swing phase (eccentrically) • Iliopsoas - active during a portion of the swing phase (concentrically)

• Quadriceps -- 1st 10% of the stance phase (eccentrically) and last 20% of the swing phase (concentrically) • Hamstrings -- initial portion of the

Muscle Activity in Running

• Plantar flexors (gastrocnemius & soleus) – Mid and latter part of stance phase

swing phase (concentric) and at the end of the swing phase (eccentric)

Elite Sprinter Characteristics
• • • • Slight vertical displacement of body Long length stride Small amount of time on ground Greater knee flexion during recovery of leg • BW rotations of leg segment just before foot contact • Strong and complete extension during thrust phase of support

Running Economy
• Comparing track and treadmill running;
– Marathon-pace difference of 7-8% at middle-distance pace – 20% decrease in energy cost during draft – Decrease in energy cost due to clothing and haircut

Running Economy
• Stride length in speed running depends on
– It’s positively correlated with ratio of leg length to body height – It’s directly proportional to amount of force extended to propel body during running – It’s inversely proportional to amount of braking force at touchdown

Fatigue Effects
• Lower CG during air phase • Greater FW body lean • Lateral extension of arms • Decreased leg lift • Shorter strides • Decreased step frequency • Wider base of support with legs rotated laterally

Energy Sources

Walk (1.2 m/s)

Energy Sources

Run (3.2 m/s)

Energy Sources

Sprint (3.9 m/s)

High Hurdles
• Divided into 4 phases
– Approach
• Same as sprinting

– Takeoff – Flight – Landing

High Hurdles

• Bring up lead foot high under buttocks • Swing lead knee fw and uw to reduce moment of inertia and facilitate rotation through hip • Extending knee brings leading leg into near-straight position to transfer momentum to lower leg

• Actions of leading leg tend to;
– Shift CG fw and uw – Body rotate bw and dw at the same time

• Distance of takeoff depends on
– Athlete’s height – Athlete’s leg length – Athlete’s speed and technique

• Lead leg and trunk continue to move fw • Leading arm motion is fw and dw
– CG clear hurdle as low as safety

• Leading knee cross hurdle
– Motions of trunk and leg are reversed

• Body is nearly erect • Drive vigorously fw into next running stride • Tend to arrest bw rotation of trunk by movement of leading leg

Race Walking Rules
• Support leg must be straight when at heel-strike & remain straight through the vertical movement • One foot must be in contact

Analysis of Race Walking
• Dorsiflexion increases at heel strike • Hyperextension increases at knee in midstance • Flexion increases at knee and hip during leg swing • Pelvic rotation increases