Although many athletic activities and plyometric training methods involve both unilateral and bilateral movement, little is known about differences in the leg stiffness (K leg) experienced during one-legged hopping (OLH) and two-legged hopping (TLH) in place. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of hopping frequencies on differences in K leg during OLH and TLH. Using a spring-mass model and data collected from 17 participants during OLH and TLH at frequencies of 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 Hz, K leg was calculated as the ratio of maximal ground reaction force (F peak) to the maximum center of mass displacement (ΔCOM) at the middle of the stance phase measured from vertical ground reaction force. Both K leg and F peak were found to be significantly greater during TLH than OLH at all frequencies, but type of hopping was not found to have a significant effect on ΔCOM. These results suggest that K leg is different between OLH and TLH at a given hopping frequency and differences in K leg during OLH and TLH are mainly associated with differences in F peak but not ΔCOM.
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Hiroaki Hobara, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, Emika Kato, and Toru Ogata
Hiroaki Hobara, Koh Inoue, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, and Toru Ogata
Despite the presence of several different calculations of leg stiffness during hopping, little is known about how the methodologies produce differences in the leg stiffness. The purpose of this study was to directly compare K leg during hopping as calculated from three previously published computation methods. Ten male subjects hopped in place on two legs, at four frequencies (2.2, 2.6, 3.0, and 3.4 Hz). In this article, leg stiffness was calculated from the natural frequency of oscillation (method A), the ratio of maximal ground reaction force (GRF) to peak center of mass displacement at the middle of the stance phase (method B), and an approximation based on sine-wave GRF modeling (method C). We found that leg stiffness in all methods increased with an increase in hopping frequency, but K leg values using methods A and B were significantly higher than when using method C at all hopping frequencies. Therefore, care should be taken when comparing leg stiffness obtained by method C with those calculated by other methods.
Hiroaki Hobara, Sakiko Saito, Satoru Hashizume, Hiroyuki Sakata, and Yoshiyuki Kobayashi
To understand the step characteristics during sprinting in lower-extremity amputees using running-specific prosthesis, each athlete should be investigated individually. Theoretically, sprint performance in a 100-m sprint is determined by both step frequency and step length. The aim of the present study was to investigate how step frequency and step length correlate with sprinting performance in elite unilateral transtibial amputees. By using publicly-available Internet broadcasts, the authors analyzed 88 races from 7 unilateral transtibial amputees. For each sprinter’s run, the average step frequency and step length were calculated using the number of steps and official race time. Based on Pearson’s correlation coefficients between step frequency, step length, and official race time for each individual, the authors classified each individual into 3 groups: step-frequency reliant, step-length reliant, and hybrid. It was found that 2, 2, and 3 sprinters were classified into step-frequency reliant, step-length reliant, and hybrid, respectively. These results suggest that the step frequency or step length reliance during a 100-m sprint is an individual occurrence in elite unilateral transtibial amputees using running-specific prosthesis.
Atsushi Makimoto, Yoko Sano, Satoru Hashizume, Akihiko Murai, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, Hiroshi Takemura, and Hiroaki Hobara
Understanding the characteristics of ground reaction forces (GRFs) on both limbs during sprinting in unilateral amputees wearing running-specific prostheses would provide important information that could be utilized in the evaluation of athletic performance and development of training methods in this population. The purpose of this study was to compare GRFs between intact and prosthetic limbs during sprinting in unilateral transfemoral amputees wearing running-specific prostheses. Nine sprinters with unilateral transfemoral amputation wearing the same type of prosthesis performed maximal sprinting on a 40-m runway. GRFs were recorded from 7 force plates placed in the center of the runway. Peak forces and impulses of the GRFs in each direction were compared between limbs. Peak forces in vertical, braking, propulsive, and medial directions were significantly greater in intact limbs than those in prosthetic limbs, whereas there were no significant differences in peak lateral force between limbs. Further, significantly less braking impulses were observed in prosthetic limbs than in intact limbs; however, the other measured impulses were not different between limbs. Therefore, the results of the present study suggest that limb-specific rehabilitation and training strategies should be developed for transfemoral amputees wearing running-specific prostheses.
Hiroaki Hobara, Wolfgang Potthast, Ralf Müller, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, Thijs A. Heldoorn, and Masaaki Mochimaru
The aim of this study was to develop a normative sample of step frequency and step length during maximal sprinting in amputee sprinters. We analyzed elite-level 100-m races of 255 amputees and 93 able-bodied sprinters, both men and women, from publicly-available Internet broadcasts. For each sprinter’s run, the average forward velocity, step frequency, and step length over the 100-m distance were analyzed by using the official record and number of steps in each race. The average forward velocity was greatest in able-bodied sprinters (10.04 ± 0.17 m/s), followed by bilateral transtibial (8.77 ± 0.27 m/s), unilateral transtibial (8.65 ± 0.30 m/s), and transfemoral amputee sprinters (7.65 ± 0.38 m/s) in men. Differences in velocity among 4 groups were associated with step length (able-bodied vs transtibial amputees) or both step frequency and step length (able-bodied vs transfemoral amputees). Although we also found that the velocity was greatest in able-bodied sprinters (9.10 ± 0.14 m/s), followed by unilateral transtibial (7.08 ± 0.26 m/s), bilateral transtibial (7.06 ± 0.48 m/s), and transfemoral amputee sprinters (5.92 ± 0.33 m/s) in women, the differences in the velocity among the groups were associated with both step frequency and step length. Current results suggest that spatiotemporal parameters during a 100-m race of amputee sprinters is varied by amputation levels and sex.