A Description of Stroke Dynamics in 100 Meter Wheelchair Racing


  • M. E. Ridgway
  • J. D. Wilkerson
  • C. J. Pope


Since wheelchair racing was introduced in the United States over thirty years ago, wheelchair sports have been experiencing a growing popularity. An ever increasing number of national, and international competitions are being held for the disabled athlete; and record times in racing events are being set on an almost routine basis. Much interest by coaches, athletes, and researchers exists in identifying optimal performance factors in wheelchair propulsion, Three major areas of interest relating to performance have been the topics of recent research, symposia, and conferenees. These include the following: (1) designing effective training programs; (2) improving chair design; and (3) optimizing technique. Elite disabled athletes are being profiled by researchers from both physiological and biomechanical perspectives. All wheelchair users stand to benefit from wheelchair sports and research. Where many everyday chair users once were in a heavy, awkward «hospital-type» chair that fitted no one and certainly wasn't designed for sports use, now light weight, easily maneuverable chairs are in use. As equipment is improved and propulsion techniques become more efficient, all chair users can benefit from such knowledge. The United States Olympic Committee sponsored their first Sports Medieine and Sports Science Conference for the Disabled Athlete in the United States in March of 1987. This conference provided the opportunity for coaches, athletes, researchers, and other persons interested in sports for the disabled athlete to come together to share knowledge and ideas, and to examine the unique needs of the disabled performer. While physical limitations may influence the disabled athlete's perfomance, today's athletes are vitally interested in learning how to maximize their individual physical abilities. Although the major thrust of a great many of the research studies investigating wheelchair athletes has often been of a physiologic nature, a growing body of biomechanic research on wheelchair propulsion has been identified (Ridgwaw, Pope & Wilkerson, 1987; Siler, Martin & Mungiole, 1987; Higgs, 1986; Sanderson & Sommer, 1985; Cerquiglini, Figura, Marchetti & Ricci, 1981; King, 1981; and Perry, 1981). Many of these investigations have included small sample sizes, have been limited to male subjects, and have included relatively few classes of wheelchair athletes. Additionally, few have studied the elite wheelchair athlete during commpetition. The purpose of this study was to develop a kinematic model of wheelchair propulsion during 100-meter racing as performed by three classes of elite male wheelchair athletes.