Being able to keep high speed at steep downhill slopes when running outdoors is an important factor for performance in undulating terrain. However, to date research is sparse regarding the most effective running technique for a fast downhill descent as well as what requirements such a technique puts on the equipment to optimize the body's motion.

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When running on flat ground there are clear connections to a number of physiological factors that are crucial to performance. Previous research, from outdoor running with variation in inclination and surface, clearly shows that the ability to maintain a high speed in steep slopes is a key factor in performing in this kind of terrain.

For example, during running downhill, high oxygen uptake is not as crucial because the runner will not be close to its maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). Most likely, it is the runner's ability to minimize the braking force, that is to say, reduce the force at the initial as well as throughout the time the foot has ground contact, which determines a fast downhill descent.

The study is carried out on a treadmill that can be tilted to simulate downhill descents. The runners will run at different inclinations using running on even terrain as control. The study includes methods like insole pressure sensors, advanced 3D motion analysis system and measurement of runner’s energy consumption.

The aim of the study include both performance and development of materials to optimize body movement in order to minimize stress on exposed parts of the body despite a high running speed.

The study is a collaboration between Sports Tech Research Centre, The Swedish Sports Confederation and The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH in Stockholm.


Glenn Björklund

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