Kinetic demands of sprinting shift across the acceleration phase: novel analysis of entire force waveforms

Steffi L. Colyer, Ryu Nagahara, Aki I.T. Salo

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A novel approach of analyzing complete ground reaction force waveforms rather than discrete kinetic variables can provide new insight to sprint biomechanics. This study aimed to understand how these waveforms are associated with better performance across entire sprint accelerations. Twenty-eight male track and field athletes (100-m personal best times: 10.88 to 11.96 seconds) volunteered to participate. Ground reaction forces produced across 24 steps were captured during repeated (two to five) maximal-effort sprints utilizing a 54-force-plate system. Force data (antero-posterior, vertical, resultant, and ratio of forces) across each contact were registered to 100% of stance and averaged for each athlete. Statistical parametric mapping (linear regression) revealed specific phases of stance where force was associated with average horizontal external power produced during that contact. Initially, antero-posterior force production during mid-late propulsion (eg, 58%-92% of stance for the second ground contact) was positively associated with average horizontal external power. As athletes progressed through acceleration, this positive association with performance shifted toward the earlier phases of contact (eg, 55%-80% of stance for the eighth and 19%-64% for the 19th ground contact). Consequently, as athletes approached maximum velocity, better athletes were more capable of attenuating the braking forces, especially in the latter parts of the eccentric phase. These unique findings demonstrate a shift in the performance determinants of acceleration from higher concentric propulsion to lower eccentric braking forces as velocity increases. This highlights the broad kinetic requirements of sprinting and the conceivable need for athletes to target improvements in different phases separately with demand-specific exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1784-1792
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number7
Early online date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018


  • 1D analysis
  • SPM
  • regression
  • running velocity
  • track and field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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