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.

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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