Running is thought to be an efficient gait due, in part, to the behavior of the plantar flexor muscles and elastic energy storage in the Achilles tendon. Although plantar flexor muscle mechanics and Achilles tendon energy storage have been explored during rearfoot striking, they have not been fully characterized during forefoot striking. This study examined how plantar flexor muscle-tendon mechanics during running differs between rearfoot and forefoot striking. We used musculoskeletal simulations, driven by joint angles and electromyography recorded from runners using both rearfoot and forefoot striking running patterns, to characterize plantar flexor muscle-tendon mechanics. The simulations revealed that foot strike pattern affected the soleus and gastrocnemius differently. For the soleus, forefoot striking decreased tendon energy storage and fiber work done while the muscle fibers were shortening compared to rearfoot striking. For the gastrocnemius, forefoot striking increased muscle activation and fiber work done while the muscle fibers were lengthening compared to rearfoot striking. These changes in gastrocnemius mechanics suggest that runners planning to convert to forefoot striking might benefit from a progressive eccentric gastrocnemius strengthening program to avoid injury.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-62464-3
View details for PubMedID 32245985