When running on the level, muscles perform as much positive as negative external work. On a slope, the external positive and negative work performed are not equal. The present study analysed how the ratio between positive and negative work modifies the bouncing mechanism of running. Our goals are to: (1) identify the changes in motion of the centre of mass of the body associated with the slope of the terrain and the speed of progression, (2) study the effect of these changes on the storage and release of elastic energy during contact and (3) propose a model that predicts the change in the bouncing mechanism with slope and speed. Therefore, the ground reaction forces were measured on 10 subjects running on an instrumented treadmill at different slopes (from −9 to +9 deg) and different speeds (between 2.2 and 5.6 m s−1). The movements of the centre of mass of the body and its external mechanical energy were then evaluated. Our results suggest that the increase in the muscular power is contained (1) on a positive slope, by decreasing the step period and the downward movements of the body, and by increasing the duration of the push, and (2) on a negative slope, by increasing the step period and the duration of the brake, and by decreasing the upward movement of the body. Finally, the spring-mass model of running was adapted to take into account the energy added or dissipated each step on a slope.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
Conceived and designed the experiments: A.D., P.L., P.W. Performed the experiments: A.D., P.L., P.W. Analyzed the data: A.D., P.L., P.W. Wrote the paper: A.D., P.L., P.W.
This study was funded by the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), the Universidad Finis Terrae (Chile) and the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Belgium).
Supplementary information available online at http://jeb.biologists.org/lookup/doi/10.1242/jeb.142976.supplemental
- Received May 11, 2016.
- Accepted May 14, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd