Article #43 of 50: I have made it a goal of mine to share at least 50 research articles with you to review in 2012. These articles will be shared with no opinion of mine, just purely the information provided in the research and where to go to read more about the topic. This weekly challenge will feature many different aspects of the field: strength, conditioning, nutrition, psychology, etc. If you would like to submit research articles to be included in this segment, please email me a PDF version of the peer reviewed journal article.

The Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 2283-2287.

SUMMARY: In level running, humans and other animals store and recover elastic energy during each step. What role does elastic energy play during downhill and uphill running? We measured the fluctuations of the mechanical energy of the center of mass (CoM) of 15 human participants running at 3ms–1 on the level, downhill and uphill on a force-measuring treadmill mounted at 3, 6 and 9deg. In level running, nearly symmetrical decreases and increases of the combined gravitational potential and kinetic (GPE+KE) energy of the CoM indicated equal possible elastic energy storage and recovery. However, asymmetrical fluctuations during hill running indicate reduced maximum possible elastic energy storage and return. We analyzed mechanical energy generation and dissipation during level and hill running by quantifying the anatomically estimated elastic energy storage (AEEE) in the arch and Achillesʼ tendon using peak ground reaction forces and anatomical characteristics. AEEE did not change with grade. At shallow downhill grades, the body must generate mechanical energy, though it dissipates more than it generates. At steeper downhill grades, little to no energy generation is required and only mechanical energy dissipation must occur. The downhill grade at which mechanical energy must no longer be generated occurs at approximately –9 deg, near the metabolically optimal running grade. At shallow uphill grades, mechanical energy must be generated to raise the CoM, and at steeper grades, additional energy must be generated to offset reduced elastic energy storage and return.

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