Shock accelerations and attenuation in downhill and level running


      Objective. A study was conducted to investigate the possible effects of fatigue on the heel strike-initiated shock accelerations and on attenuation of these shocks along the body during eccentric muscle contractions.
      Design. Level and decline running on a treadmill were used to acquire the experimental data on the foot strike-initiated shock accelerations.
      Background. Eccentric contractions of the lower limb muscles in combination with shock generation and propagation during downhill running and muscle fatigue may diminish their ability to dissipate and attenuate loading on the system.
      Methods. Fourteen young healthy males ran on a treadmill at a speed exceeding their anaerobic threshold by 5% for 30 min, as follows: (a) level running and (b) downhill running with a decline angle of −4°. The foot strike-induced shock accelerations were recorded every five minutes on the tibial tuberosity and sacrum. Fatigue was monitored by means of the respiratory parameters.
      Results. The downhill running related with eccentric muscle contractions was associated with increased shock propagation from the tibial tuberosity to the sacrum levels, even though fatigue did not develop.
      Conclusions. Shock propagation from the tibial tuberosity to the sacrum is augmented due to the eccentric action of the muscles, without metabolic fatigue development.
      Eccentric muscle contraction in downhill running reduces the musculoskeletal ability to attenuate the heel strike-induced shock waves. Knowledge about the effect of fatigue on the shock propagation between the shank and the sacrum levels may help in understanding the mechanism of stress fractures and joint damage.


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