Relationships between running economy and mechanics in middle-distance runners

Di Michele, Rocco (2008) Relationships between running economy and mechanics in middle-distance runners, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Discipline delle attività motorie e sportive, 20 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/783.
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Running economy (RE), i.e. the oxygen consumption at a given submaximal speed, is an important determinant of endurance running performance. So far, investigators have widely attempted to individuate the factors affecting RE in competitive athletes, focusing mainly on the relationships between RE and running biomechanics. However, the current results are inconsistent and a clear mechanical profile of an economic runner has not been yet established. The present work aimed to better understand how the running technique influences RE in sub-elite middle-distance runners by investigating the biomechanical parameters acting on RE and the underlying mechanisms. Special emphasis was given to accounting for intra-individual variability in RE at different speeds and to assessing track running rather than treadmill running. In Study One, a factor analysis was used to reduce the 30 considered mechanical parameters to few global descriptors of the running mechanics. Then, a biomechanical comparison between economic and non economic runners and a multiple regression analysis (with RE as criterion variable and mechanical indices as independent variables) were performed. It was found that a better RE was associated to higher knee and ankle flexion in the support phase, and that the combination of seven individuated mechanical measures explains ∼72% of the variability in RE. In Study Two, a mathematical model predicting RE a priori from the rate of force production, originally developed and used in the field of comparative biology, was adapted and tested in competitive athletes. The model showed a very good fit (R2=0.86). In conclusion, the results of this dissertation suggest that the very complex interrelationships among the mechanical parameters affecting RE may be successfully dealt with through multivariate statistical analyses and the application of theoretical mathematical models. Thanks to these results, coaches are provided with useful tools to assess the biomechanical profile of their athletes. Thus, individual weaknesses in the running technique may be identified and removed, with the ultimate goal to improve RE.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Di Michele, Rocco
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
energy cost running biomechanics mathematical modelling
Data di discussione
17 Giugno 2008

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