Interaction of the human body and surfaces of different stiffness during drop jumps

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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine two hypotheses: (a) the stiffness of the surface influences the leg stiffness of the subjects during drop jumps, and (b) drop jumping performance (jumping height and energy rates of the subject's center of mass during the contact phase) increases when decreasing surface stiffness due to a greater energy storage capacity of the surface for a given acting force.

METHODS: Ten female subjects performed a series of drop jumps from 40-cm height onto two sprung surfaces with different stiffness. Those trials of each subject displaying the maximal mechanical power during the upward phase were analyzed. The ground reaction forces were measured using a force plate. Sagittal kinematics of the subject's body positions and the deformation of the surface were recorded using two high-speed video cameras.

RESULTS: On the soft surface, the jumping height and the energy rates of the subjects during the contact phase were greater than on the hard one. The energy delivered by the subjects during the upward phase, the leg and joint stiffness, as well as the range of motion of the subjects remained unchanged for both surfaces.

CONCLUSIONS: The absolute energy loss is lower for the hard surface, but the jumping performance is greater for the soft one. The reason is a higher ratio of positive to negative mechanical work done by the subjects during the contact phase. The adjustment of the subjects to different surfaces is not only dependent on the stiffness of the surface but also on the intensity of the movement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Volume36
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)451-9
Number of pages9
ISSN0195-9131
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2004

ID: 44698

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