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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Ferris 1997.

Interaction of leg stiffness and surfaces stiffness during human hopping

Ferris DP, Farley CT. Interaction of leg stiffness and surfaces stiffness during human hopping. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Jan;82(1):15–22; discussion 13–4. PubMed #9029193.
Tags: running, movement, classics, exercise, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of Ferris 1997?This page is one of thousands in the 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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

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

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.

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These six articles on cite Ferris 1997 as a source:

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