Differences in sprinting performance and kinematics between preadolescent boys who are fore/mid and rear foot strikers

The purpose of this study was to clarify whether foot strike patterns are associated with different sprint performance and kinematics in preadolescent boys. The study enrolled 24 healthy 10-11-year-old boys in the fifth grade at public elementary schools in Japan. The participants performed the 50-m sprint with maximum effort. Sprint motion was recorded using a high-speed video camera (120 fps) placed in the sagittal plane on the left side of a line drawn at 35-m from the start line. Kinematic variables were calculated based on manually digitized body landmark coordinates. The participants were categorized into two groups according to their foot strike pattern (rearfoot strikers, RF group, n = 12; forefoot or midfoot strikers, FF/MF group, n = 12). The time taken to complete the 50-m sprint in the FF/MF group (9.08±0.52 s) was faster than that in the RF group (9.63±0.51 s). The FF/MF group had greater sprint speed, higher step frequency, and shorter foot contact time than the RF group. Regarding the association between foot strike pattern and sprint kinematics, we found that the RF group had a greater range of knee flexion during the support-leg phase, whereas the FF/MF group had shorter horizontal distance from the heel of the support leg to the centre of mass at the touchdown, greater maximal knee flexion velocity during the swing-leg phase, and higher the maximum hip extension velocity during the support-leg phase. The current results suggested that, in preadolescent boys, forefoot or midfoot strike (rather than rearfoot strike) is effective for obtaining a higher step frequency and sprint speed through greater magnitude of knee flexion and hip extension movement velocities during the swing and support phases, respectively. The current findings will be useful for understanding the characteristics of the development of sprinting performance in preadolescent children.

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