The surface-athlete interaction is discussed as one possible factor in overuse injuries, as the ground reaction force does not depend only on the athlete’s movement during surface contact but also on the mechanical properties of the playing surface. Since it is extremely difficult to measure the ground reaction force on an area-elastic surface, two damped linear-spring models were combined to calculate both the vertical ground reaction force on area-elastic surfaces and their deformations during the athlete’s landing from a jump height of 0.45 m. The athlete model consists of 4 segments (feet, shanks, thighs, and rest of the body) and the surface model consists of 5 segments each connected (a) to the concrete and (b) to each other via an additional imaginary segment. While the connections to the concrete were kept constant, the surface mass and the connections between the segments were varied in order to consider different degrees of area-elasticity of the simulated surfaces. With this approach it was shown that both the passive and active maximum of the vertical ground reaction force depend only on the maximum deformation of the surface, whereas the force rates vary greatly for identical maximum deformations. It appears that these differences increase with increasing maximum deformation. Therefore, in constructing area-elastic sport surfaces, the maximum deformation allowed should be as large as would coincide with other functions the surface must fulfill. Subsequently, the surface mass interacting with the athlete during landing should be large and the damping properties between these mass-segments should be very small.
Klaus Peikenkamp and Klaus Nicol are with the Institute for Sport Science, Westfälische Wilhelms—University of Münster, Horstmarer Landweg 62b, D-48149 Münster, Germany; Martin Fritz is with the Institute for Occupational Physiology, University of Dortmund, Ardeystraβe 67, D-44139 Dortmund, Germany.