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Thibault Lussiana, Kim Hébert-Losier, Grégoire P. Millet and Laurent Mourot

The effects of footwear and inclination on running biomechanics over short intervals are well documented. Although recognized that exercise duration can impact running biomechanics, it remains unclear how biomechanics change over time when running in minimalist shoes and on slopes. Our aims were to describe these biomechanical changes during a 50-minute run and compare them to those observed in standard shoes. Thirteen trained recreational male runners ran 50 minutes at 65% of their maximal aerobic velocity on a treadmill, once in minimalist shoes and once in standard shoes, 1 week apart in a random order. The 50-minute trial was divided into 5-minute segments of running at 0%, +5%, and –5% of treadmill incline sequentially. Data were collected using photocells, high-speed video cameras, and plantar-pressure insoles. At 0% incline, runners exhibited reduced leg stiffness and plantar flexion angles at foot strike and lower plantar pressure at the forefoot and toes in minimalist shoes from minute 34 of the protocol onward. However, only reduced plantar pressure at the toes was observed in standard shoes. Overall, similar biomechanical changes with increased exercise time were observed on the uphill and downhill inclines. The results might be due to the unfamiliarity of subjects to running in minimalist shoes.

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Thibault Lussiana, Cyrille Gindre, Kim Hébert-Losier, Yoshimasa Sagawa, Philippe Gimenez and Laurent Mourot

Purpose:

No unique or ideal running pattern is the most economical for all runners. Classifying the global running patterns of individuals into 2 categories (aerial and terrestrial) using the Volodalen method could permit a better understanding of the relationship between running economy (RE) and biomechanics. The main purpose was to compare the RE of aerial and terrestrial runners.

Methods:

Two coaches classified 58 runners into aerial (n = 29) or terrestrial (n = 29) running patterns on the basis of visual observations. RE, muscle activity, kinematics, and spatiotemporal parameters of both groups were measured during a 5-min run at 12 km/h on a treadmill. Maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) and peak treadmill speed (PTS) were assessed during an incremental running test.

Results:

No differences were observed between aerial and terrestrial patterns for RE, V̇O2max, and PTS. However, at 12 km/h, aerial runners exhibited earlier gastrocnemius lateralis activation in preparation for contact, less dorsiflexion at ground contact, higher coactivation indexes, and greater leg stiffness during stance phase than terrestrial runners. Terrestrial runners had more pronounced semitendinosus activation at the start and end of the running cycle, shorter flight time, greater leg compression, and a more rear-foot strike.

Conclusions:

Different running patterns were associated with similar RE. Aerial runners appear to rely more on elastic energy utilization with a rapid eccentric-concentric coupling time, whereas terrestrial runners appear to propel the body more forward rather than upward to limit work against gravity. Excluding runners with a mixed running pattern from analyses did not affect study interpretation.