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Rahel Gilgen-Ammann, Wolfgang Taube and Thomas Wyss

Purpose:

To quantify gait asymmetry in well-trained runners with and without previous injuries during interval training sessions incorporating different distances.

Methods:

Twelve well-trained runners participated in 8 high-intensity interval-training sessions on a synthetic track over a 4-wk period. The training consisted of 10 × 400, 8 × 600, 7 × 800, and 6 × 1000-m running. Using an inertial measurement unit, the ground-contact time (GCT) of every step was recorded. To determine gait asymmetry, the GCTs between the left and right foot were compared.

Results:

Overall, gait asymmetry was 3.3% ± 1.4%, and over the course of a training session, the gait asymmetry did not change (F 1,33 = 1.673, P = .205). The gait asymmetry of the athletes with a previous history of injury was significantly greater than that of the athletes without a previous injury. However, this injury-related enlarged asymmetry was detectable only at short (400 m), but not at longer, distances (600–1000 m).

Conclusion:

The gait asymmetry of well-trained athletes differed, depending on their history of injury and the running distance. To detect gait asymmetries, high-intensity runs over relatively short distances are recommended.

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Karin Fischer-Sonderegger, Wolfgang Taube, Martin Rumo and Markus Tschopp

Purpose: To investigate the strengths and limitations of different indicators to measure physical load. Furthermore, indicators were evaluated for discrimination between performance levels and playing positions. Methods: Ninety positional match files from 70 elite players and 91 match files from 69 subelite players were collected during 14 official under-18 matches using a local position measurement system. Indicators are calculated from speed, absolute acceleration (acc-abs), or percentage acceleration (acc-%). The acc-% describes the level of acceleration depending on the maximal voluntary acceleration (a max) for each initial running speed. Effect sizes (ES) were used to determine discriminative ability. Results: The number of high accelerations largely depended on the method (absolute threshold [>3 m·s−2 and >4 m·s−2] 120 and 59 efforts; high percentage threshold [>75% a max] 84 efforts). Only a small number of highly accelerated efforts reached speeds considered high-speed running (>19.8 km·h−1: 32.6%). More high acc-% exists from initial running speed >2 m·s−1 (23.0) compared with acc-abs (>3 m·s−2 14.4, >4 m·s−2 5.9). Elite players achieve higher values in most performance indicators, with ES being highest for the number of high acc-% (ES = 0.91) and high acc-abs (>3 m·s−2 ES = 0.86, >4 m·s−2 ES = 0.87), as well as for covered distance in jogging (ES = 0.94). Conclusions: Estimated physical load, discriminative ability of physical indicators, and positional requirements largely depend on the applied method. A combination of speed-based and acc-% methods is recommended to get a comprehensive view.

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Michael Wälchli, Jan Ruffieux,, Audrey Mouthon, Martin Keller and Wolfgang Taube

Purpose: Balance training (BT) studies in children reported conflicting results without evidence for improvements in children under the age of 8. The aim of this study therefore was to compare BT adaptations in children of different age groups to clarify whether young age prevents positive training outcomes. Methods: The effects of 5 weeks of child-oriented BT were tested in 77 (38 girls and 39 boys) participants of different age groups (6–7 y, 11–12 y, and 14–15 y) and compared with age-matched controls. Static and dynamic postural control, explosive strength, and jump height were assessed. Results: Across age groups, dynamic postural sway decreased (−18.7%; P = .012; ηp2=.09) and explosive force increased (8.6%; P = .040; ηp2=.06) in the intervention groups. Age-specific improvements were observed in dynamic postural sway, with greatest effects in the youngest group (−28.8%; P = .026; r = .61). Conclusion: In contrast to previous research using adult-oriented balance exercises, this study demonstrated for the first time that postural control can be trained from as early as the age of 6 years in children when using child-oriented BT. Therefore, the conception of the training seems to be essential in improving balance skills in young children.

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Lilian Roos, Wolfgang Taube, Carolin Tuch, Klaus Michael Frei and Thomas Wyss

Purpose: Session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) is an often-used measure to assess athletes’ training load (TL). However, little is known about which factors could optimize the quality of data collection thereof. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the survey methods and the time points when sRPE was assessed on the correlation between subjective (sRPE) and objective (heart-rate training impulse; TRIMP) assessment of TL. Methods: In the first part of the study, 45 well-trained subjects (30 men and 15 women) performed 20 running sessions with a heart-rate monitor and reported sRPE 30 min after training cessation. For the reporting, the subjects were grouped into 3 groups (paper–pencil, online questionnaire, and mobile device). In the second part of the study, another 40 athletes (28 men and 12 women) performed 4 × 5 running sessions with the 4 time points to report the sRPE randomly assigned (directly after training cessation, 30 min postexercise, in the evening of the same day, and the next morning directly after waking up). Results: The assessment of sRPE is influenced by time point, survey method, TRIMP, sex, and training type. It is recommended to assess sRPE values via a mobile device or online tool, as the paper survey method displayed lower correlations between sRPE and TRIMP. Conclusions: Subjective TL measures are highly individual. When compared with the same relative intensity, lower sRPE values were reported by women for the training types representing slow runs and for time points with greater duration between training cessation and sRPE assessment. The assessment method for sRPE should be kept constant for each athlete, and comparisons between athletes or sexes are not recommended.

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Rahel Gilgen-Ammann, Thomas Wyss, Severin Troesch, Louis Heyer and Wolfgang Taube

Context: Successful elite sprint to long-distance runners are known to have shorter ground-contact time (GCT) than their less successful counterparts. Purpose: To investigate whether augmented feedback (aF) about GCT can reduce the time on ground (TOG) per minute in long-distance runners and, if so, whether this reduction improves running performance. Methods: Thirty well-trained runners were allocated to 3 groups. The intervention group (IG) received visual aF about their GCT during 8 high-intensity interval sessions in the 4-wk training period and were instructed to minimize GCT. The 1st control group (CG1) trained with the IG but was not given any feedback. The 2nd control group (CG2) followed their own training routine. Data were obtained pre- and postintervention for all 3 groups. The dependent variable was TOG per minute, computed from step frequency and GCT. Results: The IG significantly reduced TOG (P = .043, −1.7%, 90%CL −3.1;−0.3) and improved their mean 10 × 400-m performance time (P < .001, −1.5%, 90%CL −1.9;−1.1). In contrast, the 2 control groups revealed unchanged values, indicating that normal high-intensity training and an individualized routine without aF were not able to reduce TOG. The fact that CG1 received the same instructions and participated in the same training sessions as the IG underlined that aF was crucial to reduce TOG. Conclusions: The provision of aF about GCT seems to be a promising approach that should be considered during training practice of well-trained runners.