Anterior-Posterior Ground Reaction Force Characteristics for Post-Block Foot Contacts in Sprint Running

Watts, Mark Charles (2004). Anterior-Posterior Ground Reaction Force Characteristics for Post-Block Foot Contacts in Sprint Running MPhil Thesis, School of Human Movment Studies, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Watts, Mark Charles
Thesis Title Anterior-Posterior Ground Reaction Force Characteristics for Post-Block Foot Contacts in Sprint Running
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movment Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2004
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Craig Engstrom
C. Mallett
Total pages 115
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Subjects L
321405 Sports Medicine
750203 Organised sports
Abstract/Summary Past research on the acceleration phase in sprint running has concentrated on the kinematics of sprint blocks set-up and the initial steps after exiting the sprint blocks. In contrast, there has been limited research on the ground reaction forces (GRF) generated during the initial post-block foot contacts. These initial foot contacts in sprinting are important for optimising performance in the initial acceleration phase of sprinting. However, little is known about the GRF elite sprinters generate during the initial foot contacts and how these GRF characteristics relate to performance. It is the anterior-posterior (A-P) GRF that are of most importance as they indicate the sprinter’s motion from the start to the finish line. This thesis investigates the A-P GRF of the first two foot contacts of the sprint start after leaving the blocks. The participants included seventeen male and six female sprinters with a mean age of 22.6 (SD 4.4 years). Seventeen of the sprinters had competed at international/national level competitions and six at recreational/amateur level competitions. The athletes were classified as senior male elite (SME), senior female elite (SFE), junior male elite (JME) and senior male recreational (SMR). The sprinters were instructed to perform block starts at maximal effort to produce the fastest time over 5 metres on a 30 metre indoor laboratory track. Timing gates were used to record 5 metre times and two strain gauge force plates were placed in series to collect GRF data from the first two foot contacts after leaving the starting blocks. From the GRF data, braking time, maximum A-P braking force, A-P braking impulse, propulsive time, maximum A-P propulsive force, A-P propulsive impulse and A-P contact impulse were determined for each trial. The A-P propulsive phase constituted greater than 90% of the total contact time, had approximately twice the magnitude of the maximum force of the braking phase and accounted for more than 95% of the total contact impulse across the four groups of sprinters. The SME group produced a significantly larger A-P propulsive impulse on the first and second steps compared to the SFE (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively), JME (not significant and p less than 0.05 respectively) and SMR (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively) groups. The SME group’s maximum A-P propulsive force was significantly larger on the first and second steps than the SFE (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively), JME (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively) and SMR (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively) groups. The SME group’s propulsive time on the first and second steps was not significantly different compared to the SFE (both not significant) but was significantly shorter compared to the JME (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively) and SMR (p less than 0.05 and p less than 0.05 respectively) groups. The maximum A-P propulsive force correlated strongly with 5 metre time for the first step (rs = -0.670, p less than 0.01), second step (rs = -0.621, p less than 0.01) and the addition of the first and second steps (rs = -0.678, p less than 0.01) across all the sprinters. Whereas, the A-P propulsive impulse correlated strongly with 5 metre time for the first step (rs = -0.525, p less than 0.01), second step (rs = -0.592, p less than 0.01) and the addition of the first and second steps (rs = -0.584, p less than 0.01). Three A-P GRF patterns were observed during the first and second foot contacts of the sprinters examined in this study. A braking-propulsive (B-P) pattern was the most frequently observed followed by a propulsive-braking-propulsive (P-B-P) and a no braking (NB) pattern 82.7%, 15.4% and 1.9% respectively. The P-B-P and NB patterns, which have not been described previously, appeared most frequently in the least experienced sprinters. In the past, some sprinters and their coaches have tried to minimise the braking phase and maximise the propulsive phase of the first two foot contacts after exiting the blocks during sprinting. This study suggests that increasing the maximum propulsive force is the best way to increase performance over the first 5 metres of the acceleration phase. The research also suggests that there will be little benefit gained from trying to increase performance by focusing on the braking phase during these first two steps after exiting the blocks. As such, sprinters and coaches should focus their attention primarily on producing a large A-P propulsive force during the first two steps of a sprint.
Keyword running
sprint
post-block
foot contacts
kinetics

 
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