The aim of this study was to compare young and adult sprinters on several biomechanical parameters that were previously highlighted as performance-related and to determine the behaviour of several muscle–tendon units (MTU) in the first stance phase following a block start in sprint running. The ground reaction force (GRF) and kinematic data were collected from 16 adult and 21 young well-trained sprinters. No difference between the groups was found in some of the previously highlighted performance-related parameters (ankle joint stiffness, the range of dorsiflexion and plantar flexor moment). Interestingly, the young sprinters showed a greater maximal and mean ratio of horizontal to total GRF, which was mainly attributed to a greater horizontal GRF relative to body mass and resulted in a greater change in horizontal centre of mass (COM) velocity during the stance phase in the young compared with the adult sprinters. Results from the MTU length analyses showed that adult sprinters had more MTU shortening and higher maximal MTU shortening velocities in all plantar flexors and the rectus femoris. Although previously highlighted performance-related parameters could not explain the greater 100 m sprinting times in the adult sprinters, differences were found in the behaviour of the MTU of the plantar flexors and rectus femoris during the first stance phase. The pattern of length changes in these MTUs provides ideal conditions for the use of elastic energy storage and release for power enhancement.
Aeles, J., Jonkers, I., Debaere, S., Delecluse, C., & Vanwanseele, B. (2018). Muscle–tendon unit length changes differ between young and adult sprinters in the first stance phase of sprint running. Royal Society Open Science, 5(6). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.180332