Physical Activity, Exercise Physiology, Movement
Mechanisms of Increasing Running Speeds with Different Foot Strike Patterns
(School of Public Health (UMD) Kinesiology Undergraduate Student)
Objectives: The research aim of this project is to better understand how humans accomplish the basic locomotor task of increasing their running speed from slow to fast while using different foot strike patterns. Approach: We used an optical camera system and force plates to collect motion capture and ground reaction force data in the UMD Neuromechanics lab. We tested 14 subjects who ran at five incrementally increasing endurance speeds, ranging from “super slow” to “very fast.” They preformed the task once with a heel-toe (RFS) running pattern and once with a toe-first (FFS) pattern. Findings: Preliminary data analysis involved calculating speed, step length (SL), and step frequency (SF) across speed and foot strike conditions for ten subjects. When we pooled the data, the slopes for the speed/SL relationship were 0.5451 and 0.4699 for FFS and RFS, respectively. For the speed/SF relationship, the slopes were 0.4531 and 0.424, respectively. Conclusion: Based on our initial findings, the relationship between SL, SF, and speed did not appear sensitive to the foot strike used. However, on an individual level, some subjects showed differences across foot strikes in the SL, SF, and speed relationship. Public Health Significance: This research line has implications for exercise prescription. Understanding how runners increase speed can help inform whether particular individuals should run for exercise, and if so, at what speed and fashion for optimal health and injury avoidance. Additionally, given that over-striding is often cited as a cause of running injuries, serious runners seeking to safely increase their speed would benefit from our findings.