EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Research article
Volume 4, No. 1, 2012, 11-24
UDC 796.012.412.5:796.012.13-053.5/.6
AGE-RELATED CHANGES OF RUNNING STRIDE
KINEMATICS IN 7 TO 18 YEAR - OLD YOUTH
Mari·n Vanderka & Tom·ö Kampmiller,
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports,
Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia
Abstract
The research deals with cross-section analysis of ontogenetic characteristics of basic
kinematic parameters of the running stride in terms of age and gender from 7 to 18 years of
age. There were monitored: average velocity, stride frequency and length, duration of support
and flying phase, as well as other derived indicators at 10 m with 15 m flying start. Sample
consisted of
1299 male and 1288 female students of elementary and high schools in
Bratislava. Authors determined high age dependency of running speed and stride length on
age. On the other hand, there was high ontogenetic stability of the indicators
(stride
frequency, duration of support and flying phase) in the population of 7 to 18 year-old youth.
Ontogenetically stable parameters deteriorated partially in prepubescent and at the beginning
of the pubescent period in the age 11 ñ 15. This relates to rapid growth of body height and
weight and deterioration of biomechanical and coordination conditions of an organism. Those
finding lead the authors to the conclusion, that ontogenetically stable indicators comprise so
called dispositional factors in evaluating the rate of talent for running speed.
Keywords: running, kinematics parameters, maximal speed, ontogenesis
Introduction
Running speed belongs to those human motor capabilities, which are difficult to
develop. They are substantially conditioned by hereditary factors on CNS level, structure of
muscle fibers, energy systems and it is hard to influence them by the process of sports
training. Besides, running speed is one of the basic motor capability and it a part of the
structure of the sport performance in many sports events. These are the reasons that make
early recognition of a talent for fast run and recognition of kinematic parameters that
influence it very important. This is why it is necessary to search for such parameters of
running speed (predictors), which are relatively independent from age and which demonstrate
high ontogenetic stability.
Corresponding author. Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University, Department of Track
and Field, L. Svobodu 9, 814 69, Bratislava, Slovakia, e-mail: vanderka@fsport.uniba.sk
© Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
In the phase of maximum speed both frequency and the length of stride are relatively
constant, the proportion between the contact and flight phases of sprinters stride is also
stabilized. The zone, where sprinters achieve their absolute maximum speed is very limited.
In principle, the best sprinters can sustain this phase for 10 to 20 meters. The zone of maximal
speed is located somewhere between 60 and 80 meters in men and between 50 and 70 meters
in elite women. Maximal speed is always a product of optimal stride length and the
frequency. There are no differences in the length of stride between elite and sub-elite
sprinters, with differences existing only in the frequency of stride (Donati, 1996; Mackala,
2007; Seagrave, Mouchbahani, & O`Donnel, 2009).
The studies about the kinematics of sprinting are usually focused on top or high level
athletes where they found the most important parameters. The most important generator of
sprinting stride efficiency is the execution of the contact phase, especially the ratio between
the breaking phase and propulsion part (»oh, äkof, Kugovnik, & Dolenec, 1994; Alcaraz,
Palao, Elvira, & Linthorne, 2008). To ensure maxima sprinting velocity, the force impulse
must be as small as possible in the breaking phase, which is possible trough an economic
placement of the foot of the push-off leg as close as possible to the vertical projection of the
body centre of gravity on the surface.
It seems that the basic kinematic characteristics of running during phase of maximum
speed are: momentary and average velocity, frequency and length of the running stride,
duration of the support phase and the flying phase and efficiency index, which is defined by
duration of the support phase and the running phase ratio. The duration of the support phase
in 13 to 16-year-old youth presents a stable factor in terms of ontogenesis (TabaËnik, 1979;
Siris, Gajdarska, & RaËev,
1983). The period of so-called ìsensitive phaseî in the
development of children (9-13 years), which is very suitable for development of speed
potential. Central neural system is being developed, particularly emphasized is formation of
myelin nerve sheath, which serves as a transporter of neural impulses from central neural
system to active muscles. In this period, particularly the speed of transfer of such impulses,
which generate the speed of movement, can be influenced.
The level of the stride frequency during the phase of maximum speed is a stable factor
in the population ontogenesis and it can be influenced only by appropriately oriented,
specialized sport preparation (Korneljuk & Marakuöin, 1977). It was also found the linear
independence between the velocity of run and the support phase duration (Bogdanov, 1974;
Tjupa, Aleshinsky, Kaimin, & Primakov, 1978; Kampmiller & Koötial, 1986). This finding
shows that it is a substantial criterion for determining the maximal running speed of humans.
To determine basic kinematic parameters of the running stride at distance (10m) with
15 ñ meters approach (flying start) in cross-sectional age samples of male and female students
of elementary and high schools in Bratislava (ISCED 2, 3) of 7 ñ 18 years of age and to point
out the ontogenetic stability of frequency and length of the running stride, duration of the
support phase and the flying phase. To determine basic measures of location (mean) and of
variability (standard deviation) in one-year intervals in samples of boys and girls.
Method
Samples consisted of the 7 to 18 years old students of elementary and high schools in
Bratislava. There were 1299 boys and 1288 girls in the samples. Subjects were supposed to
run in maximum speed 25 meters long track. There was recorded the velocity of the 10 meters
distance after 15 meters flying start by timing gates in standard conditions (gymnasium, sports
hall). The run was carried out on a contact platform in combination with a measuring device
12
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
ìLokomometerî, which by use of computer technology evaluates basic kinematic parameters
of the running step (velocity of the 10 meters distance, frequency and length of the running
stride, duration of the support phase and the flying phase and efficiency index, which is
defined by duration of the support phase and the running phase ratio). Contact platform was
17 meters long and consisted of two conductive layers separated by non-conductive elastic
grading. During the contact of a foot with a surface, the contact platform worked as an electric
circuit switch, during the flight phase, the circuit was disconnected. Length parameters were
measured by ìLokomometerî
(äelinger, Kampmiller, äelingerova, & Laczo,
1994).
Measuring of the time variables was carried out with 0.001 s accuracy, length variables with ±
0.005 m. Body height was determined with ± 0,005 m accuracy and body weight with ± 0.5
kg. Age was determined with 0.1 years accuracy.
We have used no research procedure that may harm the child either physically or
psychologically, we take special effort to explain the research procedures also to the parents
and be especially sensitive to any indicators of discomfort. As with the child and parents or
guardians informed consent requires that the persons interacting with the child during the
study be informed of all features of the research which may affect their willingness to participate.
Samples were divided to groups according to age with one-year gap between the
groups, in average from 6.5 to 17.5 years old. Means and standard deviations were calculated.
Ontogenetic tendencies were represented graphically and by means of significance of
difference by two-sample statistical t-test of middle values of interannual increase. Statistical
significance was evaluated on 1% and 5% level. In addition there was used correlation
analysis in IBM SSP program.
Results
In Table
1 and Table
2 there are basic statistical characteristics of observed
parameters. On the Figure1 there is a course of average running speed, which shows parallel
and linear growth from 6.5 to 13.5 years of age in both boys and girls. Later on speed in boys
increases steeply, meanwhile it stagnates in girls. Similar trend shows on Figure2 (average
stride length). The stride frequency (Figure3) shows very stable tendency with slight decrease
at the end of observed period. This parameter changes significantly only during prepubescent
and at the beginning of the pubescent period (from 10.5 to 14.5 years of age).
8
7,5
7
6,5
6
5,5
5
4,5
4
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Speed - GIRLS
Speed - BOYS
Figure 1 Average running speed of the 10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start
13
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
190
180
170
160
150
140
130
120
110
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Stride length - GIRLS
Stride length - BOYS
Figure 2 Average stride length of the 10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start
4,5
4,25
4
3,75
3,5
3,25
3
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Stride frequency - GIRLS
Stride frequency - BOYS
Figure 3 Average stride frequency of the 10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start
Duration of the contact of a foot with a surface (Figure 4) displays similarly stable
course as the stride frequency. As a result of biological changes the duration of the contact
lengthens between 10.5 and 13.5 years of age and gradually returns to original values in 7
years of age. This parameter of the kinematic structure of the running step also displays high
level of ontogenetic stability, which is proved by interannual t-test values in Table 1, 2.
14
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
Table 1
Statistical characteristics of age, somatic and kinematic parameters of running stride on the
10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start - BOYS and significance of differences between
the variables
15
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
Table 1 (continued)
16
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
Table 2
Statistical characteristics of age, somatic and kinematic parameters of running stride on the
10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start - GIRLS and significance of differences
between the variables
17
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
Table 2 (continued)
18
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
Values of the flying phase duration can be studied on the Figure5. Their course is
parallel in both boys and girls with duration lengthening tendency till 12.5 years of age
followed by slightly shortening tendency till 17.5 years of age. Similar is also the course of
efficiency index on the Figure 6. It is clear that these parameters confirm high level of
ontogenetic stability (duration of the support phase and the flying phase, flying phase and
support phase ratio and frequency) compared to unstable parameters, such as running speed
and stride length, which are dependent on age.
170
165
160
155
150
145
140
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Contact time - GIRLS
Contact time - BOYS
Figure 4 Average contact time of the 10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start
120
115
110
105
100
95
90
85
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Flight time - GIRLS
Flight time - BOYS
Figure 5 Average flight time of the 10 meters distance after 15 meters flying start
19
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
0,75
0,7
0,65
0,6
0,55
6,5
7,5
8,5
9,5
10,5 11,5 12,5 13,5 14,5 15,5 16,5 17,5
Age (years)
Flight/contact time - GIRLS
Flight/contact time - BOYS
Figure 6 Efficiency index - defined by duration of the support phase and the running phase
ratio
Relationship analysis in the form of Pearson correlation coefficients, which are shown
in Table3, confirmed statistically significant dependence of running speed, indicators of
decimal age, body height, body weight, duration of the support phase and the flying phase,
stride length and stride frequency (girls); relative speed, relative frequency and efficiency
index (boys). The results showed, for both sexes, that the structure of the sprint stride change
drastically in connection to the stride length and frequency, the ratio between the contact and
the flight phase sand the vertical pressure on the surface. The correlation coefficients show
that the duration of contact, the relative stride frequency and the vertical pressure on the
surface are good indicators of the sprinting potential of young runners.
20
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
Table 3
Correlation coefficients and their significances of age, somatic and kinematic parameters of
the 10 m after 15 m flying start
BOYS
21
M. Vanderka & T. Kampmiller
Discussion
The results of the research of kinematic characteristics of the running step in the
population of 7 to 18 year-old youth allow us to present following conclusions:
Running speed measured at 10 m long track with 15 m long approach (flying start) has
linear growth tendency in the male population till 13 years of age, followed by phase of even
steeper increase. In the female population after 14 to 15 years of age there is observable
stagnation of the running speed/velocity. Similar age dependence was detected meanwhile
assessing the length of the running step.
High level of ontogenetic stability and independence from age was determined in
kinematic parameters (stride frequency, duration of the support phase, duration of the flight
phase, and partly efficiency index). These indicators can be considered the predictors of the
running speed. Partial deterioration of the kinematic parameters occurs in prepubescent and
pubescent period.
The stride frequency showed as a very stable parameter, significantly changes are only
during prepubescent period, its can be explained by deterioration of coordination, which is a
result of increase in body height and weight. Moreover, »oh, Joöt, Kampmiller, and ätuhec
(2000) found that development of maximal speed is not constant, but has certain oscillations,
particularly in the adolescence period, when morphological and motor characteristics of youth
change. Due to acceleration of longitudinal parameters, frequency and length of stride change.
The length of stride increases and the frequency of stride decreases significantly. Frequency
does not change only as a result of morphological changes, but also due to disruption of
proprio-receptive mechanisms for movement control.
In contradiction with our duration of the contact results are findings of BraËiË,
Tomaûin, & »oh (2009). They found that the biggest differences in the development of
maximal speed of pupils of both tenders occur between the ages of 12 and 14, mainly in boys
due to development of strength. The duration of contact phase of sprinters stride in boys is
rapidly reduced after the age of 12. However others (Mero, Luhtanen, & Komi, 1986; Mero,
Komi, & Gregor, 1992) consider duration of contact phase as one of the main criteria in
selecting young sprinters.
These results are comparable to older research Kampmiller and Koötial (1986), which
were carried out with smaller samples, and modified methods at school stadiums, where there
was not possible to achieve high level of standard conditions of measurements. That is why
our results are influenced by new method. For example the support phase is 0.02 s longer than
measured in the past, also in comparison with values of kinematic parameters of support
phase done by other authors »oh et al. (1994) where they found the most important kinematic-
dynamic parameters, their developmental trend and their influence on the efficiency in
maximal sprinting speed for young spinsters of both sexes, from eleven to eighteen years of
age. They recorded kinematical and dynamical parameters also with electronic devise -
locomometer.
It was also determined that stride length and stride frequency were negatively
correlated in maximal speed running which was the result of positive correlation between
skeleton dimensionality and stride length, on the one hand, and of negative correlation
between skeleton dimensionality and stride frequency. As far as authors know, research
demonstrated integrally the mechanism of mutual relationships between subcutaneous fatty
tissue, skeleton dimensionality, explosive power and kinematic parameters Babi„ and Dizdar
(2010).
22
Age related changes of running stride kinematics
For specific implications into practice, based on our results, we suggest to evaluate the
rate of talent for running speed on the basis of stride frequency and support phase duration. If
a child achieves above-average values in aforesaid parameters 2 or 3 standard deviations
higher than population average, determined in our research, an individual can be considered
as talented. Results of our research can be used as background papers for assessment of the
rate of talent for running speed. An individual can be considered talented if he or she achieves
parameters of two standard deviations above mean values in indicators as stride frequency,
duration of the support phase and running speed. It may contribute to a better understanding
of the factors responsible for sprint performance in the population of athletes who are not top-
level sprinters, i.e. they may be useful to PE teachers, coaches who work with novices in
athletics and physical conditioning coaches who work in other sports than athletics, to get a
more thorough insight into the sprinting efficiency mechanisms.
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