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J Biomech., 2006; 39(6): 1030-8, PMID: 16549093

Human hoppers compensate for simultaneous changes in surface compression and damping

Jahr: 2006

Moritz CT, Farley CT
Locomotion Laboratory, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0354, USA. ctmoritz@u.washington.edu

Abstract

On a range of elastic and damped surfaces, human hoppers and runners adjust leg mechanics to maintain similar spring-like mechanics of the leg and surface combination. In a previous study of adaptations to damped surfaces, we changed surface damping and stiffness simultaneously to maintain constant surface compression. The current study investigated whether hoppers maintain spring-like mechanics of the leg-surface combination when surface damping alone changes (elastic and 1000-4800 N s m(-1)). We found that hoppers adjusted leg mechanics to maintain similar spring-like mechanics of the leg-surface combination and center of mass dynamics on all surfaces. Over the range of surface damping, vertical stiffness of the leg-surface combination increased by only 12% and center of mass displacement decreased by only 6% despite up to 55% less compression of more heavily damped surfaces. In contrast, a simulation predicted a 44% decrease in vertical displacement with no adjustment to leg mechanics. To compensate for the smaller and slower compression of more heavily damped surfaces, the stance legs compressed by up to 4.1 +/- 0.2 cm further and reached peak compression sooner. To replace energy lost by damped surfaces, hoppers performed additional leg work by extending the legs during takeoff by up to 3.1 +/- 0.2 cm further than they compressed during landing. We conclude that humans simultaneously adjust leg compression magnitude and timing, as well as mechanical work output, to conserve center of mass dynamics on damped surfaces. Runners may use similar strategies on natural energy-dissipating surfaces such as sand, mud and snow.

GID: 86; Letzte Änderung: 16.12.2007