Sprinting along a curved path is regularly performed in athletics. Yet, the locomotion mechanisms behind curved sprinting performance are relatively unexplored. The current dissertation aimed to explore the limiting factors for curved sprinting performance from a biomechanical perspective.
It was discovered that the available traction between footwear and ground can limit the maximum-effort curved sprinting performance, but only to a certain extent. As available traction was systematically increased from a traction coefficient of 0.26 to 0.82, the athletes leaned more into the ground, generated a greater impulse against the ground and achieved a higher performance. Further increases in the available traction could not be utilized by the athletes for additional performance benefits.
With an experimental perturbation of additional body mass, the idea that non-sagittal plane joint stabilizing moments may limit performance was examined. It was revealed that for the ankle and knee joints, non-sagittal plane moments higher than that experienced in maximum-effort curved sprints can indeed be endured. This observation challenged the stabilizing moment limit theory.
When sprinting with and without the additional mass, the total ankle moment generation remained constant, despite significant differences in the ground reaction force. It is possible that the ankle moment generation is at the limit. Through an induced acceleration analysis, it was identified that moment generated at the ankle contributed to the majority of the ground force generation. It is possible that the ankle moment generation was maximized for its importance in the ground force generation.
To examine the idea that ankle moment generation may limit curved sprinting performance, an experimental intervention of wedged footwear was implemented aiming to increase the ankle moment. By aligning the ankle joint closer to its neutral configuration in the frontal plane, ankle moment generation increased. That increase was associated with significant improvements in ground impulse generation, and overall curved sprinting performance.