Joint stiffness and running economy during imposed forefoot strike before and after a long run in rearfoot strike runners

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Research has focused on the effects of acute strike pattern modifications on lower extremity joint stiffness and running economy (RE). Strike pattern modifications on running biomechanics have mostly been studied while runners complete short running bouts. This study examined the effects of an imposed forefoot strike (FFS) on RE and ankle and knee joint stiffness before and after a long run in habitual rearfoot strike (RFS) runners. Joint kinetics and RE were collected before and after a long run. Sagittal joint kinetics were computed from kinematic and ground reaction force data that were collected during over-ground running trials in 13 male runners. RE was measured during treadmill running. Knee flexion range of motion, knee extensor moment and ankle joint stiffness were lower while plantarflexor moment and knee joint stiffness were greater during imposed FFS compared with RFS. The long run did not influence the difference in ankle and knee joint stiffness between strike patterns. Runners were more economical during RFS than imposed FFS and RE was not influenced by the long run. These findings suggest that using a FFS pattern towards the end of a long run may not be mechanically or metabolically beneficial for well-trained male RFS runners. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group