Forefoot (FF) and rearfoot (RF) running techniques can induce different lower-limb muscle activation patterns. However, few studies have evaluated temporal changes in the electromyographic activity (EMG) of lower limb muscles during running. The aim of this study was to compare temporal changes in EMG amplitude between RF and FF running techniques. Eleven recreational runners ran on a treadmill at a self-selected speed, once using a RF strike pattern and once using a FF strike pattern (randomized order). The EMG of five lower limb muscles [rectus femoris (RFe), biceps femoris (BF), tibialis anterior (TA), medial and lateral gastrocnemius (MG and LG)] was evaluated, using bipolar electrodes. EMG data from the RF and FF running techniques was then processed and compared with statistical parametric mapping (SPM), dividing the analysis of the running cycle into stance and swing phases. The MG and LG muscles showed higher activation during FF running at the beginning of the stance phase and at the end of the swing phase. During the end of the swing phase, the TA muscle's EMG amplitude was higher, when the RF running technique was used. A higher level of co-activation between the gastrocnemius and TA muscles was observed in both stance and swing phases using RF. The myoelectric behaviour of the RFe and BF muscles was similar during both running techniques. The current findings highlight that the two running techniques predominately reflect adjustments of the shank and not the thigh muscles, in both phases of the running cycle. Highlights Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) can reveal temporal differences in muscle activity between running techniques. The medial and lateral gastrocnemius muscles were more active at specific time-instants of the initial stance and late swing phases during forefoot (FF) running compared to rearfoot (RF) running. Higher activation was observed for the tibialis anterior muscle at the end of the swing phase during RF running Contrary to the muscle activity differences observed in the leg muscles, the muscle activity of the thigh muscles was similar during RF and FF running.
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© 2022 European College of Sport Science.
- Statistical parametric mapping
- surface electromyography