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Antti Mero and Paavo V. Komi

This study was undertaken to compare force-time characteristics, muscle power, and electromyographic (EMG) activities of the leg muscles in maximal sprinting and in selected bounding and jumping exercises. Seven male sprinters performed maximal bounding (MB), maximal stepping (MS), maximal hopping with the right (MHR) and left (MHL) legs, and maximal sprint running (MR). These “horizontal” exercises and running were performed on a force platform. EMG activity was telemetered unilaterally from five leg muscles during each trial. The results indicated significant (p < .001) differences among the studied exercises in velocity, stride length, stride rate, flight time, and contact time. Also, significant differences were noticed in reactive forces (p < .01-.001) and power (p < .01) among the performances, whereas only insignificant differences were observed in EMG patterns. The average resultant forces during the braking and propulsion phases in MS, MHR, and MHL were greater (p < .001) than in MR and MB. Stepping and hopping are cyclic and sprint-specific and may be used as strength exercises for sprinters because of great strength demand.

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Daniel Feeney, Steven J. Stanhope, Thomas W. Kaminski, Anthony Machi and Slobodan Jaric

The aims of the current study were to explore the pattern of the force–velocity (F–V) relationship of leg muscles, evaluate the reliability and concurrent validity of the obtained parameters, and explore the load associated changes in the muscle work and power output. Subjects performed maximum vertical countermovement jumps with a vest ranging 0–40% of their body mass. The ground reaction force and leg joint kinematics and kinetics were recorded. The data revealed a strong and approximately linear F–V relationship (individual correlation coefficients ranged from 0.78–0.93). The relationship slopes, F- and V-intercepts, and the calculated power were moderately to highly reliable (0.67 < ICC < 0.91), while the concurrent validity F- and V-intercepts, and power with respect to the directly measured values, was (on average) moderate. Despite that a load increase was associated with a decrease in both the countermovement depth and absolute power, the absolute work done increased, as well as the relative contribution of the knee work. The obtained findings generally suggest that the loaded vertical jumps could not only be developed into a routine method for testing the capacities of leg muscles, but also reveal the mechanisms of adaptation of multijoint movements to different loading conditions.

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Philip E. Martin and Gary D. Heise

Archery instructors believe that force distribution (FD) between the hand and bow grip can have a considerable effect on arrow flight, but there is no empirical support for this speculation. This study examined FD on the bow grip in experienced archers and explored the possible relationships between FD, performance, and fatigue. FD was quantified for 15 experienced archers (8 highly skilled [HS] and 7 less skilled [LS]) using 15 unobtrusive force sensors as each archer completed 72 shots. Arrow position relative to the target center, estimated net moments and moment arms about vertical and horizontal axes through the grip, and shot-to-shot variability in the estimated moments and moment arms were computed for three blocks of six shots. Results demonstrated that (a) estimated moments and moment arms were not consistently related to observed vertical or horizontal deviations in arrow position, (b) there were no systematic differences in FD between HS and LS archers, (c) fatigue had no quantifiable effect on FD, and (d) HS archers displayed less shot-to-shot variability in vertical FD than LS archers, but similar variability horizontally. Results did not support the above-noted common belief of archery instructors.

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Kenneth Meijer, Henk J. Grootenboer, Bart F.J.M. Koopman and Peter A. Huijing

The effect of various shortening histories on postshortening isometric length-force characteristics of rat medial gastrocnemlus (GM) was studied. Active muscle force and muscle geometry were analyzed after isotonic as well as isokinetic shortening. Active shortening significantly changed GM length-force characteristics (i.e., maximal muscle force, optimum muscle length, and active slack length). Muscle geometry did not change, which indicates that the observed changes in length-force curves are related to intracellular processes. Length-force curves valid during shortening, derived from postshortening characteristics, were very different from the fully isometric length-force curve. Their most remarkable feature was the absence of a negative slope. It was concluded that the length-force curve valid during active shortening strongly depends upon shortening characteristics (i.e., initial length and shortening speed). As a consequence, the traditional, fully isometric, length-force curve is a poor estimator of the length-force curve during dynamic contractions of muscle. Implications for muscle function are discussed.

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Panagiotis Ioakimidis, Vasilios Gerodimos, Eleftherios Kellis and Spiros Kellis

Fifteen young basketball players (aged 14.4 – 0.5 yrs) underwent two identical testing sessions spaced one week apart, to determine the reliability of maximum isometric force and force-time parameters during a maximal bilateral isometric leg press effort. The maximal isometric force (MIF), the ratio of maximal force to time (T MIF) to attain maximal force (ARMIF), starting strength (F 50), and on a relative scale the time taken to increase the force from 10% to 30%, 60%, and 90% of maximal force were calculated. High intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were found for MIF (0.96), ARMIF (0.85), and F50 (0.90). On the relative scale, the ICCs for the times to produce 30%, 60%, and 90% of maximum force were 0.94, 0.95, 0.95, respectively. The present results indicate that maximum isometric force and the force-time parameters during a bilateral leg press can be measured reliably in pubertal basketball players.

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Eadric Bressel, Gerald Smith, Andrew Miller and Dennis Dolny

Context: Quantification of the magnitudes of fluid resistance provided by water jets (currents) and their effect on energy expenditure during aquatic-treadmill walking is lacking in the scientific literature. Objective: To quantify the effect of water-jet intensity on jet velocity, drag force, and oxygen uptake (VO2) during aquatic-treadmill walking. Design: Descriptive and repeated measures. Setting: Athletic training facility. Participants, Interventions, and Measures: Water-jet velocities were measured using an electromagnetic flow meter at 9 different jet intensities (0-80% maximum). Drag forces on 3 healthy subjects with a range of frontal areas (600, 880, and 1250 cm2) were measured at each jet intensity with a force transducer and line attached to the subject, who was suspended in water. Five healthy participants (age 37.2 ± 11.3 y, weight 611 ± 96 N) subsequently walked (~1.03 m/s or 2.3 miles/h) on an aquatic treadmill at the 9 different jet intensities while expired gases were collected to estimate VO2. Results: For the range of jet intensities, water-jet velocities and drag forces were 0-1.2 m/s and 0-47 N, respectively. VO2 increased nonlinearly, with values ranging from 11.4 ± 1.0 to 22.2 ± 3.8 mL × kg-1 × min-1 for 0-80% of jet maximum, respectively. Conclusions: This study presented methodology for quantifying water-jet flow velocities and drag forces in an aquatic-treadmill environment and examined how different jet intensities influenced VO2 during walking. Quantification of these variables provides a fundamental understanding of aquatic-jet use and its effect on VO2. In practice, these results indicate that VO2 may be substantially increased on an aquatic treadmill while maintaining a relatively slow walking speed.

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Kimberly B. Harbst, Jo-Anne C. Lazarus and Jill Whitall

The purpose of this study was to investigate how children and adults control bimanual activities with the influence of kinematic variables minimized. Force and timing measures were analyzed in self-paced, isometric bimanual pinch tasks performed by 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-year-old, and adult subjects. Subjects (n = 84) performed four tasks (inphase symmetrical, antiphase reciprocal, inphase asymmetrical force-right high, inphase asymmetrical force-left high) cycling between low levels (10-30%) of maximal volitional force during three 15-s trials. Bimanual tasks requiring similar activation between the hands were performed more accurately, more quickly, and with less force and timing variability than tasks requiring different actions and/or levels of force to be produced simultaneously. Evidence of force entrainment between the hands was exhibited when force direction (increasing vs. decreasing) was similar between hands but greater relative force was required of the left hand. Lower accuracy and greater variability resulted when controlled decrement of force was required to reach the lower force targets as opposed to the upper force targets which required subjects to increase force. Subjects in the two youngest age groups exhibited lower force accuracy and greater force and timing variability relative to older children and adults. Twelve-year-old subjects approximated adults' performance in all variables.

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Daniela JS Mattos, Susana Cristina Domenech, Noé Gomes Borges Junior and Marcio José Santos

Eight subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) (47.13 ± 7.83 years) and 8 matched controls (46.29 ± 7.27 years) manipulated a test object fitted with an accelerometer and force sensor, both before and after hand muscle fatigue. Grip force and object acceleration were recorded and used to calculate grip force control variables that included Grip Force Peak, Safety Margin, and Time to Grip Force Peak. Individuals with CTS exhibited a higher Safety Margin (p = .010) and longer Time to Peak of Grip Force (p = .012) than healthy controls during object manipulation. Once fatigued, both groups significantly decreased their grip force to perform the task (Grip Force Peak; p = .017 and Safety Margin; p < .001). Nevertheless, individuals with CTS maintained an unnecessarily high safety margin. Our results suggest that CTS can adversely affect how the central nervous system regulates grip force, which might aggravate the inflammatory process and exacerbate the symptoms of this disease.

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S. L. Hong, M-H. Lee and K.M. Newell

This experiment examined the magnitude and structure of force variability in isometric index finger force production tasks at 5, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 85, and 95% of maximal force in two different finger orientations. In the finger flexion task, the participants generated a downward isometric force through index finger flexion. In the finger abduction task, isometric force was generated by adducting the index finger (mediolateral motion of the middle finger and forearm were restricted). The task-related, normal force (Fz) and tangential forces (Fx and Fy) were collected with a three-dimensional force transducer. The standard deviation (SD) of the task-related force output (Fz) increased exponentially with force level. With increasing force level, approximate entropy (ApEn, a measure of irregularity) of Fz followed an inverted-U function for finger flexion, but decreased linearly in finger abduction. However, changes in the ApEn of the tangential forces were generally opposite to that of Fz, revealing compensations in the irregularity of force output between force dimensions. The findings provide evidence that force variability is related to muscle force-length characteristics (Feldman, 1966; Gottlieb & Agarwal, 1988).

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Roger O. Kollock, Bonnie Van Lunen, Stacie I. Ringleb and James Onate

The ability to produce force rapidly and to maintain it is essential to sports performance. Although rapid force production and endurance are indispensable characteristics of optimal health and performance, assessing these qualities of strength is difficult because of clinician time constraints. The purpose of this study was to determine if peak force is a predictor of rate of force production and strength endurance. The results indicated peak force is a predictor of rate of force development, but not strength endurance. Clinicians should assess both maximum strength and endurance to gain a more complete picture of lower extremity strength deficits.