Understanding the leg and joint stiffness during human movement would provide important information that could be utilized for evaluating sports performance and for injury prevention. In the present study, we examined the determinants of the difference in the leg stiffness between the endurance-trained and power-trained athletes. Seven distance runners and seven power-trained athletes performed in-place hopping, matching metronome beats at 3.0 and 1.5 Hz. Leg and joint stiffness were calculated from kinetic and kinematics data. Electromyographic activity (EMG) was recorded from six leg muscles. At both hopping frequencies, the power-trained athletes demonstrated significantly higher leg stiffness than the distance runners. Hip, knee, and ankle joints were analyzed for stiffness and touchdown angles. Ankle stiffness was significantly greater in the power-trained athletes than the distance runners at 3.0 Hz as was knee stiffness at 1.5 Hz. There was no significant difference in touchdown angle between the DR and PT groups at either hopping frequencies. When significant difference in EMG activity existed between two groups, it was always greater in the distance runners than the power-trained athletes. These results suggest that (1) the difference in leg stiffness between endurance-trained and power-trained athletes is best attributed to increased joint stiffness, and (2) the difference in joint stiffness between the two groups may be attributed to a lack of similarity in the intrinsic stiffness of the muscle-tendon complex rather than in altered neural activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering