Quantitative Comparison of Locomotor Performance in Different Race Walkers
AbstractBiomechanics of track and field activities has been investigated by many authors. A literature overview on race walking points out various analyses on: supporting energy (Zarrough et al. 1974), mechanical energy variations (Marchetti et at. 1983), potential versus kinetic energy variations (Ralston and Lukin, 1969), muscular work efficiency (Marchetti et at. 1983), Payne (1979) reported the ground reaction components measured during race walking while some aspects of the related biomechanics were discussed by Boccardi et al. (1978) by displaying a vectorial representation of the ground reaction evolution. As the trainers know well, the primary needs of the race walkers involve something more than a general description of the basic executive mechanism. The athletes have to solve a very complex problem: walk under restrictive Jules for a time varying from 18 to more than 200 minutes at a speed that is usually more than two times higher the threshold at which a man begins running naturally (Cavagna et at., 1977). Such goal is obtained through a proper modification of the normal motor-patterns aimed to the best use of the endurance qualities. By the way, the critical importance of optimal motor efficiency to reduce any possible noisy factor is evident. The aim of this study is to quantify locomotor performances of two homogeneous groups of differently ranked walkers. The vectorial representation of the ground reaction force is used to identify and compare typical biomechanical features associating with the athletic level. A further data processing, including normalization and statistical estimation of the differences between the results from the two groups. leads to a practical and powerful tool for the investigation of motorcoordination and asymmetry in race walking.