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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1310. doi: 10.1038/srep01310.

Running humans attain optimal elastic bounce in their teens.

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Section of Human Physiology, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation-DePT, University of Milan, 20133 Milan, Italy.


In an ideal elastic bounce of the body, the time during which mechanical energy is released during the push equals the time during which mechanical energy is absorbed during the brake, and the maximal upward velocity attained by the center of mass equals the maximal downward velocity. Deviations from this ideal model, prolonged push duration and lower upward velocity, have found to be greater in older than in younger adult humans. However it is not known how similarity to the elastic bounce changes during growth and whether an optimal elastic bounce is attained at some age. Here we show that similarity with the elastic bounce is minimal at 2 years and increases with age attaining a maximum at 13-16 years, concomitant with a mirror sixfold decrease of the impact deceleration peak following collision of the foot with the ground. These trends slowly reverse during the course of the lifespan.

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