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Weighted Baseball Training Affects Arm Speed Without Increasing Elbow and Shoulder Joint Kinetics

Michael E. O’Connell, Kyle E. Lindley, John O. Scheffey, Alex Caravan, Joseph A. Marsh, and Anthony C. Brady

Long-term training effects of weighted ball throwing programs have been well documented. However, the mechanisms that facilitate these effects are poorly understood. The purpose of this study is to investigate within-session effects of throwing overload and underload baseballs to provide mechanistic evidence for weighted baseball training methods. Twenty-six collegiate- and professional-level baseball pitchers aged 20–30 years (mean age 23.5 [2.7] y) participated in a biomechanical evaluation while pitching a series of leather weighted baseballs. A 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to evaluate the intrasubject effect of ball weight on a total of 15 kinematic, kinetic, and performance parameters. Ball weight significantly affected pitch velocity, maximum elbow flexion, maximum pelvis rotation velocity, maximum shoulder internal rotation velocity, maximum elbow extension velocity, and anterior trunk tilt at ball release. None of the measured arm joint kinetics were significantly affected by ball weight. Training with 3- to 7-ounce (85- to 198-g) baseballs can be used to work on increasing pitching velocity without increasing throwing arm joint kinetics.

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The Effects of Constraining Head Rotation on Eye and Whole-Body Coordination During Standing Turns at Different Speeds

Mark Hollands, Fuengfa Khobkhun, Amornpan Ajjimaporn, Rebecca Robins, and Jim Richards

A limitation of the ability to rotate the head with respect to the upper body has been associated with turning problems; however, the extent of head constraints on whole-body coordination has not been fully determined. The aim of this study was to limit head on body rotation and observe the effects on whole-body coordination during standing turns at various speeds. Twelve participants completed standing turns at 180°. A Vicon motion system and a BlueGain Electrooculography system were used to record movement kinematics and measure horizontal eye movements, respectively. All participants were tested at 3 randomized speeds, and under 2 conditions with or without their head constrained using a head, neck, and chest brace which restricted neck movement. A repeated-measures analysis of variance found a significant main effect of turning speed on the onset latency of all segments, peak head–thorax angular separation, and step characteristics. Constraining the head rotation had multiple significant effects including delayed onset latency and decreased intersegmental coordination defined as peak head segmental angular separations, increased total step and step duration, and decreased step size. This indicates the contribution of speed, head, and neck constraints, which have been associated with falls during turning and whole-body coordination.

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Assessing Time-Varying Lumbar Flexion–Extension Kinematics Using Automated Pose Estimation

Paul N. Goncharow and Shawn M. Beaudette

The purpose of this research was to evaluate the algorithm DeepLabCut (DLC) against a 3D motion capture system (Vicon Motion Systems Ltd) in the analysis of lumbar and elbow flexion–extension movements. Data were acquired concurrently and tracked using DLC and Vicon. A novel DLC model was trained using video data derived from a subset of participants (training group). Accuracy and precision were assessed using data derived from the training group as well as in a new set of participants (testing group). Two-way analysis of variance were used to detect significant differences between the training and testing sets, capture methods (Vicon vs DLC), as well as potential higher order interaction effect between these independent variables in the estimation of flexion–extension angles and variability. No significant differences were observed in any planar angles, nor were any higher order interactions observed between each motion capture modality with the training versus testing data sets. Bland–Altman plots were used to depict the mean bias and level of agreement between DLC and Vicon for both training and testing data sets. This research suggests that DLC-derived planar kinematics of both the elbow and lumbar spine are of acceptable accuracy and precision when compared with conventional laboratory gold standards (Vicon).

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Relationship Between Age and Running Kinematics in Female Recreational Runners

Heather M. Hamilton and Rumit Singh Kakar

Sex-based analyses are important when studying running kinematics. Females experience a unique aging process and demonstrate differences in running biomechanics from males. The purpose was to determine the relationship between age and running kinematics in female runners. Forty-six female runners (18–65 y) ran at self-selected jogging and maximal speed on a treadmill. Lower-extremity joint kinematics were calculated, and 2 principal component analyses (jogging speed and maximal speed) were performed from kinematic variables. Regression was used to examine the relationship between age and identified components, and between age and the variables with the highest loadings within these components. For jogging speed, there was a positive relationship between age and ankle varus at initial contact and a negative relationship between age and peak eversion, hip adduction, knee flexion, dorsiflexion, and hip adduction at initial contact (Ps < .05). For maximal speed, initial contact ankle frontal plane angle became more positive with age, and there was a negative relationship with age and peak eversion, dorsiflexion and knee flexion, and knee flexion and hip adduction at initial contact (Ps < .05). Primarily distal joint angles decreased with increasing age in female recreational runners at self-selected running speeds.

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Immediate Effects of Manipulating Footwear or Cadence on the Lower Limb Biomechanics of Female Masters Runners

Jean-Francois Esculier, Jesse M. Charlton, Natasha M. Krowchuk, Julia De Pieri, and Michael A. Hunt

The objective of this study was to compare the immediate effects of modifications to footwear or cadence on lower limb biomechanics of female Masters runners. After analyzing habitual treadmill running biomechanics in 20 female runners (52.4 [8.3] y), we assessed the effects of 5 conditions: (1) barefoot running, (2) Merrell Vapor Glove, (3) Merrell Bare Access, (4) Brooks Pure Flow, and (5) increasing cadence by 10%. In comparison with habitual biomechanics, greater vertical loading rates of the ground reaction force were observed during running barefoot or with a Merrell Vapor Glove or Bare Access. There was high variability among participants as to changes in foot kinematics during the conditions. Running barefoot (−26.0%) and with a Merrell Vapor Glove (−12.5%) reduced sagittal plane knee moments, but increased sagittal plane ankle moments (both 6.1%). Increasing cadence by 10% resulted in a more modest decrease in knee flexion moments (−7.7%) without increasing peak external ankle dorsiflexion moments. When asked if they would prefer minimalist shoes or increasing cadence, 11 participants (55%) chose cadence and 9 (45%) chose footwear. Minimalist footwear decreased sagittal knee moments, but increased vertical loading rate and sagittal ankle moments. Increasing cadence may be useful to lower sagittal knee moments without increasing ankle moments.

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Volume 38 (2022): Issue 4 (Aug 2022)

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A 3-Dimensional Gait Analysis of the Effects of Fatigue-Induced Reduced Foot Adductor Muscle Strength on the Walking of Healthy Subjects

Rogerio Pessoto Hirata, Alexander W. Erbs, Erik Gadsbøll, Rannvá Winther, Sanne H. Christensen, and Morten Bilde Simonsen

Dysfunction of the tibialis posterior muscle is the most common cause of adult acquired flat foot. Tibialis posterior muscle weakness has been observed in several patient populations, including those in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis. However, the influence of tibialis posterior weakness on gait mechanics is not fully understood, although gait instability has been reported. In 24 healthy participants, 3-dimension lower limb kinematics and kinetics during walking were evaluated bilaterally, before and after, a muscle fatigue protocol aiming to decrease the right foot adductor muscles strength, including the tibialis posterior muscle. The 3-dimension gait kinematics and kinetics were analyzed with statistical parametric mapping. The stance phase duration was increased for the right side. The right ankle external rotation moment decreased, and the left hip extension moment increased with reduced muscle strength compared with normal strength conditions. These changes are similar in patients with dysfunction in the tibialis posterior muscle, indicating that compensatory strategies observed in these patients might be related to the loss of tibialis posterior muscle strength. Such strategies may involve the unaffected side.

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Does the Achilles Tendon Influence Foot Strike Patterns During an Exhaustive Run?

Jan Urbaczka, Dominik Vilimek, and Daniel Jandacka

The study purpose was to investigate whether there is a relationship between the Achilles tendon (AT) length, moment arm length, and the foot strike pattern (FP) change during an exhaustive run (EXR) in nonrearfoot FP runners. Twenty-eight runners were recruited and divided into 2 groups (highly trained/moderately trained) according to their weekly training volume. Participants underwent the graded exercise test, the EXR with biomechanical analysis at the beginning, and at the end, and the magnetic resonance imaging scan of the AT. Correlations were used to assess associations between FP change (value of the difference between end and beginning) and the selected performance and AT variables. AT length significantly correlated with the FP change according to foot strike angle (r = −.265, P = .049). The AT moment arm length significantly correlated with the FP change according to strike index during EXR (r = −.536, P = .003). Multiple regression showed that AT length was a significant predictor for the FP change according to foot strike angle if the second predictor was the graded exercise test duration and the third predictor was training group association. These results suggest that a runner’s training volume, along with a longer AT and AT moment arm appear to be associated with the ability to maintain a consistent FP during EXR by nonrearfoot FP runners.

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2021 ISB World Athletics Award for Biomechanics: The Subtalar Joint Maintains “Spring-Like” Function While Running in Footwear That Perturbs Foot Pronation

Michael J. Asmussen, Glen A. Lichtwark, and Jayishni N. Maharaj

Humans have the remarkable ability to run over variable terrains. During locomotion, however, humans are unstable in the mediolateral direction and this instability must be controlled actively—a goal that could be achieved in more ways than one. Walking research indicates that the subtalar joint absorbs energy in early stance and returns it in late stance, an attribute that is credited to the tibialis posterior muscle-tendon unit. The purpose of this study was to determine how humans (n = 11) adapt to mediolateral perturbations induced by custom-made 3D-printed “footwear” that either enhanced or reduced pronation of the subtalar joint (modeled as motion in 3 planes) while running (3 m/s). In all conditions, the subtalar joint absorbed energy (ie, negative mechanical work) in early stance followed by an immediate return of energy (ie, positive mechanical work) in late stance, demonstrating a “spring-like” behavior. These effects increased and decreased in footwear conditions that enhanced or reduced pronation (P ≤ .05), respectively. Of the recorded muscles, the tibialis posterior (P ≤ .05) appeared to actively change its activation in concert with the changes in joint energetics. We suggest that the “spring-like” behavior of the subtalar joint may be an inherent function that enables the lower limb to respond to mediolateral instabilities during running.

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Can Anthropometry be Used to Dictate Participant-Specific Thigh Marker Placements Which Minimize Error in Hip Joint Center Estimation?

Jessa M. Buchman-Pearle and Stacey M. Acker

Specific participant characteristics may be leveraged to dictate marker placements which reduce soft tissue artifact; however, a better understanding of the relationships between participant characteristics and soft tissue artifact are first required. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy in which measures of whole-body and thigh anthropometry could predict mislocation error of the hip joint center, tracked using skin-mounted marker clusters. Fifty participants completed squatting and kneeling, while pelvis and lower limb motion were recorded. The effect of soft tissue artifact was estimated from 6 rigid thigh marker clusters by evaluating their ability to track the position of the hip joint center most like the pelvis cluster. Eighteen backward stepwise linear regressions were performed using 10 anthropometric measures as independent variables and the mean of the peak difference between the thigh and pelvis cluster-tracked hip joint centers. Fourteen models significantly predicted error with low to moderate fit (R = .38–.67), explaining 14% to 45% of variation. Partial correlations indicated that soft tissue artifact may increase with soft tissue volume and be altered by local soft tissue composition. However, it is not recommended that marker placement be adjusted based on anthropometry alone.