Biomechanical investigations of bend running technique in athletic sprint events

  • Sarah Churchill

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


For sprint events longer than 100 m, more than half the race is run on the bend, yet bend sprinting has received little attention in biomechanics literature. The aim of this thesis was to understand the effect of the bend on maximal effort sprint performance and technique, using bend radii and surfaces typical of outdoor competition.Three empirical studies were undertaken with experienced bend sprinters. Initial 3D kinematics investigations revealed an approximately 5% velocity decrease on the bend compared to the straight. However, step characteristic changes contributing to this reduction were different for the left and right steps. For the left step there were significant decreases in step frequency (p < 0.05), due to increased ground contact time, which agreed with previously proposed theoretical models. For the right step, however, a significantly reduced flight time resulted in a significant reduction in step length (p < 0.05). Maintaining step length and an ‘active touchdown’ were closely related to an athlete’s ability to better maintain straight line velocity on the bend.Generally, velocity decreased as bend radius decreased, with mean differences of up to 2.3% between lanes 8 and 2. However, changes to athletes’ technique due to different lanes were not conclusive.Ground reaction forces revealed between-limb differences during bend sprinting. Furthermore, frontal plane forces were up to 2.6 times larger on the bend than on the straight.Overall, asymmetries were identified between left and right steps for several performance, technique and force variables, suggesting that bend sprinting induces different functional roles between left and right legs, with the left step contributing more to turning to remain on the bend trajectory. The differences in kinematic and kinetic characteristics between the bend and straight, and between-limb asymmetries mean that athletes should apply the principle of specificity to bend sprinting training and conditioning, without sacrificing straight line technique.
Date of Award30 May 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAki Salo (Supervisor) & Grant Trewartha (Supervisor)


  • three dimensional
  • kinematics
  • kinetics
  • athletics
  • zoom

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