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Tucker, CB; Hanley, B (2016)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
The aim of this study was to analyse gait variability and symmetry in race walkers. Eighteen senior and 17 junior athletes race walked on an instrumented treadmill (for 10 km and 5 km, respectively) at speeds equivalent to 103% of season’s best time for 20 km and 10 km, respectively. Spatio-temporal and ground reaction force (GRF) data were recorded at 2.5 km, and at 4.5, 6.5 and 8.5 km for a subsection of athletes. Gait variability was measured using median absolute deviation (MAD) whereas inter-leg symmetry was measured using the symmetry angle. Both groups showed low variability for step length (< 0.9%), step frequency (< 1.1%), contact time (≤ 1.2%) and vertical peak force values (< 5%), and neither variability nor symmetry changed with distance walked. Junior athletes were more variable for both step length (P = 0.004) and loading force (P = 0.003); no differences for gait symmetry were found. Whereas there was little mean asymmetry overall, individual analyses identified asymmetry in several athletes (symmetry angle ≥ 1.2%). Importantly, asymmetrical step lengths were found in 12 athletes and could result from underlying imbalances. Coaches are advised to observe athletes on an individual basis to monitor for both variability and asymmetry.
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