The Variability in Running Gait Caused by Force Plate Targeting

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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This study examined the influence of force plate targeting, via stride length adjustments, on the magnitude and consistency of ground reaction force and segment angle profiles of the stance phase of human running. Seven male subjects (height, 1.77 m ± 0.081; mass, 72.4 kg ± 7.52; age range, 23 to 32 years) were asked to run at a mean velocity of 3.2 m · s–1 under three conditions (normal, short, and long strides). Four trials were completed for each condition. For each trial, the ground reaction forces were measured and the orientations of the foot, shank, and thigh computed. There were no statistically significant differences (p > .05) between the coefficients of variation of ground reaction force and segment angle profiles under the three conditions, so these profiles were produced consistently. Peak active vertical ground reaction forces, their timings, and segment angles at foot off were not significantly different across conditions. In contrast, significant differences between conditions were found for peak vertical impact forces and their timings, and for the three lower limb segment angles at the start of force plate contact. These results have implications for human gait studies, which require subjects to target the force plate. Targeting may be acceptable depending on the variables to be analyzed.

The author is with is with the Biomechanics Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-3408.

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