A new method for measuring treadmill belt velocity fluctuations: effects of treadmill type, body mass and locomotion speed

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Treadmills are essential to the study of human and animal locomotion as well as for applied diagnostics in both sports and medicine. The quantification of relevant biomechanical and physiological variables requires a precise regulation of treadmill belt velocity (TBV). Here, we present a novel method for time-efficient tracking of TBV using standard 3D motion capture technology. Further, we analyzed TBV fluctuations of four different treadmills as seven participants walked and ran at target speeds ranging from 1.0 to 4.5 m/s. Using the novel method, we show that TBV regulation differs between treadmill types, and that certain features of TBV regulation are affected by the subjects' body mass and their locomotion speed. With higher body mass, the TBV reductions in the braking phase of stance became higher, even though this relationship differed between locomotion speeds and treadmill type (significant body mass × speed × treadmill type interaction). Average belt speeds varied between about 98 and 103% of the target speed. For three of the four treadmills, TBV reduction during the stance phase of running was more intense (> 5% target speed) and occurred earlier (before 50% of stance phase) unlike the typical overground center of mass velocity patterns reported in the literature. Overall, the results of this study emphasize the importance of monitoring TBV during locomotor research and applied diagnostics. We provide a novel method that is freely accessible on Matlab's file exchange server ("getBeltVelocity.m") allowing TBV tracking to become standard practice in locomotion research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2244
JournalScientific Reports
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 26.01.2021

ID: 5964696

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