The Effects of Target Length on the Visual Control of Step Length for Hard and Soft Impacts

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Deakin University, Australia
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Adjustments to gait were examined when positioning the foot within a narrow target at the end of an approach for two impact conditions, hard and soft. Participants (6 M, 6 F) ran toward a target of three lengths along a 10-m walkway consisting of two marker strips with alternating black and white 0.5-m markings. Five trials were conducted for each target length and impact task, with trials block randomized between the 6 participants of each gender. A 50Hz digital video camera panned and filmed each trial from an elevated position adjacent to the walkway. Video footage was digitized to deduce the gait characteristics. A linear speed/accuracy tradeoff between target length and approach time was found for both impact tasks (hard, r = 0.99, p < 0.01; soft, r = 0.96, p < 0.05). For the hard-impact task, visual control time increased linearly (r = 0.99, p < 0.05) when whole-body approach velocity decreased. Visual control time was unaffected by whole-body approach velocity in the soft-impact task. A constant tau-margin of 1.08 describes the onset of visual control when approaching a target while running, with the control of braking during visual control described by a tau-dot of –0.85. Further research is needed to examine the control of braking in different targeting tasks.

The authors are with the School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood 3125, Australia.

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