Six articles on PainSci cite Ferris 1997: 1. Is Running on Pavement Risky? 2. The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome 3. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome 4. Complete Guide to Plantar Fasciitis 5. Shin Splints Treatment, The Complete Guide 6. Are Orthotics Worth It?
PainSci commentary on Ferris 1997: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
For this classic leg springiness experiment, subjects hopped in place at different frequencies on different surfaces. The purpose of this exercise was “to determine whether leg stiffness is adjusted to accommodate surfaces with different properties,” because “we know very little about the biomechanics of locomotion on substrates other than hard and smooth laboratory floors.”
The effect of different surfaces was dramatic: “The stiffness of the leg spring is increased by as much as 3.6-fold to accommodate decreases in surface stiffness.” In other words, when we’re hopping on harder surfaces, we bend our legs a lot more, like a softer spring. We’re so good at it that “many aspects of the hopping mechanics remained remarkably similar despite a > 1,000-fold change in [surface hardness].”
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
When mammals run, the overall musculoskeletal system behaves as a single linear “leg spring”. We used force platform and kinematic measurements to determine whether leg spring stiffness (k(leg)) is adjusted to accommodate changes in surface stiffness (ksurf) when humans hoop in place, a good experimental model for examining adjustments to k(leg) in bouncing gaits. We found that k(leg) was greatly increased to accommodate surfaces of lower stiffnesses. The series combination of k(leg) and ksurf [total stiffness (ktot)] was independent of ksurf at a given hopping frequency. For example, when humans hopped at a frequency of 2 Hz, they tripled their k(leg) on the least stiff surface (ksurf = 26.1 kN/m; k(leg) = 53.3 kN/m) compared with the most stiff surface (ksurf = 35,000 kN/m; k(leg) = 17.8 kN/m). Values for ktot were not significantly different on the least stiff surface (16.7 kN/m) and the most stiff surface (17.8 kN/m). Because of the k(leg) adjustment, many aspects of the hopping mechanics (e.g., ground-contact time and center of mass vertical displacement) remained remarkably similar despite a> 1,000-fold change in ksurf. This study provides insight into how k(leg) adjustments can allow similar locomotion mechanics on the variety of terrains encountered by runners in the natural world.
- “Runners adjust leg stiffness for their first step on a new running surface,” D P Ferris, K Liang, and C T Farley, J Biomech, 1999.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.
- Exercise and education versus saline injections for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. Bandak 2022 Ann Rheum Dis.
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.