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  • Author: Gert-Peter Brüggemann x
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Erik Schrödter, Gert-Peter Brüggemann and Steffen Willwacher


To describe the stretch-shortening behavior of ankle plantar-flexing muscle–tendon units (MTUs) during the push-off in a sprint start.


Fifty-four male (100-m personal best: 9.58–12.07 s) and 34 female (100-m personal best: 11.05–14.00 s) sprinters were analyzed using an instrumented starting block and 2-dimensional high-speed video imaging. Analysis was performed separately for front and rear legs, while accounting for block obliquities and performance levels.


The results showed clear signs of a dorsiflexion in the upper ankle joint (front block 15.8° ± 7.4°, 95% CI 13.2–18.2°; rear block 8.0° ± 5.7°, 95% CI 6.4–9.7°) preceding plantar flexion. When observed in their natural block settings, the athletes’ block obliquity did not significantly affect push-off characteristics. It seems that the stretch-shortening-cycle-like motion of the soleus MTU has an enhancing influence on push-off force generation.


This study provides the first systematic observation of ankle-joint stretch-shortening behavior for sprinters of a wide range of performance levels. The findings highlight the importance of reactive-type training for the improvement of starting performance. Nonetheless, future studies need to resolve the independent contributions of tendinous and muscle-fascicle structures to overall MTU performance.

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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Phillip J. Cheetham, Yilmaz Alp and Diamantis Arampatzis

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, 70 dismounts and release-regrasp movements on the high bar were selected from films gathered with three synchronized cameras during the compulsory and the optional men's high bar competition. The skills were classified into 10 groups depending on the direction of rotation, body configuration, and flight projection. Kinematic variables were used to profile the movement groups. Statistically significant differences between the groups were identified by ANOVA. Three groups with significant differences in terms of the maximum values and the locations of the maxima could be differentiated. These were (a) backward rotating swings with an increase of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant swing—triple backward tuck somersault dismount), (b) backward rotating swings with a change of the direction of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant—Tkatchov straddle), and (c) forward rotating swings with an increase or a decrease of rotation (e.g., undergrip giant swing—Jaeger somersault).

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Benno M. Nigg, Gerald K. Cole and Gert-Peter Brüggemann

Impact forces have been speculated to be associated with the development of musculoskeletal injuries. However, several findings indicate that the concepts of “impact forces” and the paradigms of their “cushioning” may not be well understood in relation to the etiology of running injuries and that complex mechanisms may be responsible for injury development during running. The purposes of this paper are (a) to review impact mechanics during locomotion, (b) to review injuries and changes of biological tissue due to impact loading, and (c) to synthesize the mechanical and biological findings. In addition, directions for future research are discussed. Future research should address the development of noninvasive techniques to assess changes in the morphology and biochemistry of bone, cartilage, tendon, and ligaments; researchers should also try to simulate impact loading during activities such as running, focusing on the interaction of the various loading parameters that determine the acceptable windows of loading for biological tissues.

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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Michael Morlock and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Performance in bobsled and luge events is influenced by several environmental, material/equipment, and team-related factors. This study concentrated on the influences of equipment and athlete on overall performance and compared the luge, 2-man bobsled, and 4-man bobsled competitions at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. Start time and overall acceleration in the analyzed straight section showed significant correlations with the final time. It was concluded that for the top teams in bobsled and luge, fast start time and high speed at the end of the start section were prerequisites for an excellent overall performance. Driving capacities in the most difficult sections of the track were more statistically important among the top 15 competitors, especially in the luge. The influence of the runners could not be identified in either bobsled or luge competitions.

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Anton Arndt, Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Mikko Virmavirta and Paavo Komi

This study was concerned with identifying important flight characteristics of the ski jump at the end of the early flight phase and describing how these characteristics developed from the run-in through the takeoff and during the early flight phase. The K90 individual competition of the 1994 Olympic Winter Games was analyzed. The 2-D data (takeoff) were collected by a high-speed video camera, and the 3-D analysis (early flight) used an algorithm whereby two cameras followed the jumpers through the early flight phase. Center of mass (CM) velocities at takeoff and after early flight and CM heights at these positions had no significant linear correlations with total distance. Only small differences in these parameters were distinguished between better and poorer performers. Significant differences between jumpers were identified in angular parameters at takeoff and in early flight. A combination of five defined flight angles yielded an R 2 value of .84. It was found that the complex movement sequences involved in ski jumping were therefore more important in their contributions to optimal flight position than the ballistic properties of the ski jumper reduced to a single point model.

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Steffen Willwacher, Manuel König, Wolfgang Potthast and Gert-Peter Brüggemann

Longitudinal midsole bending stiffness and elasticity are two critical features in the construction of running shoes. Stiff elastic materials (eg, carbon fiber) can be used to alter the midsole bending behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of midsole stiffness and elasticity manipulation on metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint mechanics during running in 19 male subjects at 3.5 m/s. Midsole bending stiffness and elasticity were modified by means of carbon fiber insoles of varying thickness. Stiffening the shoe structures around the MTP joint caused a shift of the point of force application toward the front edge of the shoe-ground interface. Negative work was significantly reduced for the stiffest shoe condition and at the same time a significant increase of positive work at the MTP joint was found. It seems plausible that the increase in positive work originates from the reutilization of elastic energy that was stored inside the passive elastic structures of the shoe and toe flexing muscle tendon units. Further, an increase in midsole longitudinal bending stiffness seems to alter the working conditions and mechanical power generation capacities of the MTP plantar flexing muscle tendon units by changing ground reaction force leverage and MTP angular velocity.

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Steffen Willwacher, Wolfgang Potthast, Markus Konrad and Gert-Peter Brüggemann

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of heel construction on ankle joint mechanics during the early stance phase of running. Kinematic and kinetic parameters (ankle joint angles, angular velocities and joint moments, lever arms of ground reaction force, triceps surae muscle tendon unit lengths, and rates of muscle tendon unit length change) were calculated from 19 male subjects running at 3.3 m/s in shoes with different heel constructions. Increasing heel height and posterior wedging amplified initial plantar flexion velocity and range. The potential for a muscle to control the movement of a joint depends upon its ability to produce joint moments. Runners in this study showed decreased external eversion moments and an increase in eversion range. Maximum eversion angles were not significantly affected by shoe conditions. Without considerable tendon prestretch, joint moment generation potentials of triceps surae and deep plantar flexors might be inhibited due to rapid plantar flexion based on the force–velocity relationship. It could be speculated that increasing ankle inversion at heel strike could be a strategy to keep maximum eversion angles inside an adequate range, if joint moment generation potentials of deep plantar flexors are inhibited due to rapid plantar flexion.

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Wolfgang Potthast, Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Arne Lundberg and Anton Arndt

The purpose of this study was to quantify relative contributions of impact interface, muscle activity, and knee angle to the magnitudes of tibial and femoral accelerations occurring after external impacts. Impacts were initiated with a pneumatically driven impacter under the heels of four volunteers. Impact forces were quantified with a force sensor. Segmental accelerations were measured with bone mounted accelerometers. Experimental interventions were hard and soft shock interfaces, different knee angles (0°, 20°, 40° knee flexion), and muscular preactivation (0%, 30%, 60% of maximal voluntary contraction) of gastrocnemii, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Greater knee flexion led to lower impact forces and higher tibial accelerations. Increased muscular activation led to higher forces and lower tibial accelerations. The softer of the two shock interfaces under study reduced both parameters. The effects on accelerations and forces through the activation and knee angle changes were greater than the effect of interface variations. The hardness of the two shock interfaces explained less than 10% of the variance of accelerations and impact forces, whereas knee angle changes explained 25–29%, and preactivation changes explained 35–48% of the variances. It can be concluded that muscle force and knee joint angle have greater effects in comparison with interface hardness on the severity of shocks on the lower leg.

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Harald Böhm, Gerald K. Cole, Gert-Peter Brüggemann and Hanns Ruder

The contribution of muscle in-series compliance on maximum performance of the muscle tendon complex was investigated using a forward dynamic computer simulation. The model of the human body contains 8 Hill-type muscles of the lower extremities. Muscle activation is optimized as a function of time, so that maximum drop jump height is achieved by the model. It is shown that the muscle series elastic energy stored in the downward phase provides a considerable contribution (32%) to the total muscle energy in the push-off phase. Furthermore, by the return of stored elastic energy all muscle contractile elements can reduce their shortening velocity up to 63% during push-off to develop a higher force due to their force velocity properties. The additional stretch taken up by the muscle series elastic element allows only m. rectus femoris to work closer to its optimal length, due to its force length properties. Therefore the contribution of the series elastic element to muscle performance in maximum height drop jumping is to store and return energy, and at the same time to increase the force producing ability of the contractile elements during push-off.

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Christopher McCrum, Katrin Eysel-Gosepath, Gaspar Epro, Kenneth Meijer, Hans H.C.M. Savelberg, Gert-Peter Brüggemann and Kiros Karamanidis

Posturography is used to assess balance in clinical settings, but its relationship to gait stability is unclear. We assessed if dynamic gait stability is associated with standing balance in 12 patients with unilateral vestibulopathy. Participants were unexpectedly tripped during treadmill walking and the change in the margin of stability (MoSchange) and base of support (BoSchange) relative to nonperturbed walking was calculated for the perturbed and first recovery steps. The center of pressure (COP) path during 30-s stance with eyes open and closed, and the distance between the most anterior point of the COP and the anterior BoS boundary during forward leaning (ADist), were assessed using a force plate. Pearson correlations were conducted between the static and dynamic variables. The perturbation caused a large decrease in the BoS, leading to a decrease in MoS. One of 12 correlations was significant (MoSchange at the perturbed step and ADist; r = −.595, P = .041; nonsignificant correlations: .068 ≤ P ≤ .995). The results suggest that different control mechanisms may be involved in stance and gait stability, as a consistent relationship was not found. Therefore, posturography may be of limited use in predicting stability in dynamic situations.