Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements.

  title={Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements.},
  author={Peter G. Weyand and Deborah B. Sternlight and Matthew J Bellizzi and Seth Wright},
  journal={Journal of applied physiology},
  volume={89 5},
We twice tested the hypothesis that top running speeds are determined by the amount of force applied to the ground rather than how rapidly limbs are repositioned in the air. First, we compared the mechanics of 33 subjects of different sprinting abilities running at their top speeds on a level treadmill. Second, we compared the mechanics of declined (-6 degrees ) and inclined (+9 degrees ) top-speed treadmill running in five subjects. For both tests, we used a treadmill-mounted force plate to… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up.

The stance phase limit to running speed is imposed not by the maximum forces that the limbs can apply to the ground but rather by the minimum time needed to apply the large, mass-specific forces necessary.


Sprint running performance can be investigated relatively simply at the whole-body level by examining the timing of the phases of the stride and the forces applied to the ground in relation to a

Are running speeds maximized with simple-spring stance mechanics?

It is concluded that a passive, simple-spring model has limited application to sprint running performance because the swiftest runners use an asymmetrical pattern of force application to maximize ground reaction forces and attain faster speeds.

Are maximum ground forces and leg compression in phase? A test of the classical spring mass model of running gaits

The mechanical understanding of human running has classically been described as a spring-mass system, with subsequent models predicting the movements of the body’s center of mass and the forces

Muscular strategy shift in human running: dependence of running speed on hip and ankle muscle performance

Insight is provided into the strategies used by the leg muscles to maximise running performance and have implications for the design of athletic training programs.

Influence of the biomechanical variables of the gait cycle in running economy

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between biomechanical variables and run- ning economy (RE). Eleven recreational (RR) and 14 well-trained runners (WT) completed 4 min stages

‘Whip from the hip’: thigh angular motion, ground contact mechanics, and running speed

Evaluated relationship between running speed, thigh angular motion and vertical force determinants suggest thigh angular velocity is strongly correlated to speed and the lower limb impact kinematics underlying force application.

A Limb-specific Strategy across a Range of Running Speeds in Transfemoral Amputees.

The results suggest that, in order to achieve a faster running speed, runners with unilateral transfemoral amputation using RSPs likely adopt limb-specific biomechanical strategies for the unaffected and affected limbs.

Lower-limb mechanics during the support phase of maximum-velocity sprint running.

The knee moment did not contribute substantially to power generation during the latter part of the support phase of a maximum-velocity sprint, however, major periods of power generation of the hip extensors in early stance and of the plantar flexors in late stance were observed.



A treadmill-mounted force platform.

In this design, belt forces and frictional forces cause no measurable cross-talk problem, and natural frequency, nonlinearity, and position independence are all quite acceptable and motor-caused vibrations are greater than 150 Hz and thus can be easily filtered.

Ground reaction forces in running: a reexamination.

Running on an incline.

A mathematical model of running made satisfactory predictions of the way many parameters of running change with the treadmill angle, including the length of the leg at touchdown and liftoff and the peak leg force in the middle of a step.

The mechanics of running: how does stiffness couple with speed?

Leg stiffness and stride frequency in human running.

Mechanical determinants of the minimum energy cost of gradient running in humans.

It is concluded that W+ext/W-ext partitioning and the eff+/eff- ratio explain the metabolic optimum gradient for running of about -10%.

Optimisation of Sprinting Performance in Running, Cycling and Speed Skating

SummarySprinting performances rely strongly on a fast acceleration at the start of a sprint and on the capacity to maintain a high velocity in the phase following the start. Simulations based on a

Running in the real world: adjusting leg stiffness for different surfaces

It is found that human runners adjust their leg stiffness to accommodate changes in surface stiffness, allowing them to maintain similar running mechanics on different surfaces, and suggests that incorporating an adjustable leg stiffness in the design of hopping and running robots is important if they are to match the agility and speed of animals on varied terrain.

The determinants of the step frequency in running, trotting and hopping in man and other vertebrates.

This study analysed the vertical motion of the centre of gravity of the body during this rebound and defined the relationship between the apparent natural frequency of the bouncing system and the step frequency at the different speeds.

Energetics of running: a new perspective

A simple inverse relationship between the rate of energy used for running and the time the foot applies force to the ground during each stride is reported, which supports the hypothesis that it is primarily the cost of supporting the animal's weight and theTime course of generating this force that determines thecost of running.