Biomechanical factors [Mechanical engineering]

Biomechanical factors

Biomechanical factors that determine running style

A question of considerable importance is, "What determines our running style?" The objective function of minimized muscular impulse and associated minimized muscular work has been alluded to previously. There are other possible biomechanical factors that might determine running style. Running style was investigated in our study of "funny running, " in which we filmed running at the same speed with a variety of accentuated styles (Lonergan, 1988). These comprised stiff lower limbs, high knee raises, and others including the preferred style. In all of the funny styles, there was at least one joint moment that was very high compared with that seen in the preferred style. Such a result means that a particular set of muscles would fatigue more rapidly than normal. What is certain is that the joint moments produced in a "normal" running style are all kept within reasonable limits of the individual’s capabilities so that no particular set of muscles is stressed over the others. When fatigue begins to set in, it would be ideal if all of the muscles fatigued simultaneously. As a practical consequence of this study, any group of muscles that shows more fatigue than others should be a specific target for training. Should specific training not solve the problem entirely, one should consider changing the running style.

Different types of muscle fibers require fuel in different forms. The red muscle fibers described previously can use oxygen combined with sources of chemical energy in the bloodstream to provide a continual supply of chemical energy to fulfill our mechanical energy requirements. This process provides energy aerobically. As we increase our demand for energy we require increased blood flow. This is why we we breathe deeper and faster when we increase running speed.
Provided that the chemical energy is supplied at an appropriate rate, we can generate mechanical energy at a rate that allows us to run. For example, the average speed of running between 3000 m and the marathon varies little within the grand scale of average running speeds. In this type of sustained running we pay as we go. As we run faster, our mechanical energy requirements outstrip the rate of delivery of chemical energy, and we experience what is known as oxygen debt. We cannot deliver oxygen fast enough, and we have to either stop running or slow down. In either case, we continue to breathe as if we were running at the original speed until our oxygen debt is paid and we return to the normal metabolic state.



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