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, Koh Inoue, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, and Toru Ogata
Sean J. Maloney, Iain M. Fletcher, and Joanna Richards
The assessment of vertical leg stiffness is an important consideration given its relationship to performance. Vertical stiffness is most commonly assessed during a bilateral hopping task. The current study sought to determine the intersession reliability, quantified by the coefficient of variation, of vertical stiffness during bilateral hopping when assessed for the left and right limbs independently, which had not been previously investigated. On 4 separate occasions, 10 healthy males performed 30 unshod bilateral hops on a dual force plate system with data recorded independently for the left and right limbs. Vertical stiffness was calculated as the ratio of peak ground reaction force to the peak negative displacement of the center of mass during each hop and was averaged over the sixth through tenth hops. For vertical stiffness, average coefficients of variation of 15.3% and 14.3% were observed for the left and right limbs, respectively. An average coefficient of variation of 14.7% was observed for bilateral vertical stiffness. The current study reports that calculations of unilateral vertical stiffness demonstrate reliability comparable to bilateral calculations. Determining unilateral vertical stiffness values and relative discrepancies may allow a coach to build a more complete stiffness profile of an individual athlete and better inform the training process.
Sean J. Maloney, Joanna Richards, and Iain M. Fletcher
This study sought to compare vertical stiffness during bilateral and unilateral drop jumping. Specifically, the intersession reliabilities and force-deformation profiles associated with each task were to be examined. On 3 occasions, following familiarization, 14 healthy males (age: 22  y; height: 1.77 [0.08] m; and body mass: 73.5 [8.0] kg) performed 3 bilateral, left leg and right leg drop jumps. All jumps were performed from a drop height of 0.18 m on to a dual force plate system. Vertical stiffness was calculated as the ratio of peak ground reaction force (GRF) to the peak center of mass (COM) displacement. Unilateral drop jumping was associated with higher GRF and greater COM displacement (both Ps < .001), but vertical stiffness was not different between tasks when considering individual limbs (P = .98). A coefficient of variation of 14.6% was observed for bilateral vertical stiffness during bilateral drop jumping; values of 6.7% and 7.6% were observed for left and right limb vertical stiffness during unilateral drop jumping. These findings suggest that unilateral drop jumps may exhibit greater reliability than bilateral drop jumps while eliciting similar vertical stiffness. It is also apparent that higher GRFs during unilateral drop jumping are mitigated by increased COM displacement.
Rahel Gilgen-Ammann, Thomas Wyss, Severin Troesch, Louis Heyer, and Wolfgang Taube
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