Touch-down and take-off characteristics of the long jump performance of world level above- and below-knee amputee athletes.

Research paper by L L Nolan, A A Lees

Indexed on: 18 Nov '00Published on: 18 Nov '00Published in: Ergonomics


The aims of this study were to establish the take-off characteristics of long jump performance of disabled amputee athletes, and to establish to what extent amputee athletes conform to a model of performance defined for elite able-bodied athletes. The jumps of 8 male below-knee (trans-tibial) and 8 male above-knee (trans-femoral) amputee athletes who competed in the finals of the long jump at the 1998 World Disabled Championships were recorded in the sagittal plane on video (50 Hz). Approach speed was measured using a laser Doppler system. The best jump for each athlete was digitized, and kinematic data from the key instants of touch-down (TD), maximum knee flexion (MKF) and take-off (TO) were obtained. Amputees demonstrated a lower approach speed and jumped less far than able-bodied athletes although below-knee amputees performed better than above-knee amputees. For each amputee group there was a significant (p < 0.05) linear relationship between approach speed and distance jumped. With the exception of their slower horizontal speed and greater negative vertical speed at touch-down, below-knee amputees demonstrated characteristics of technique that were similar to elite able-bodied long jumpers. Above-knee amputees at touchdown had a more upright trunk, smaller hip and knee angles and consequently a smaller leg angle. This was attributed to the difficulty of taking off on the last stride on the prosthetic limb. Consequently, above-knee amputees were less able to gain vertical velocity during the compression (TD-MKF) phase, but were able to compensate for this by using a greater hip range of motion during the extension (MKF-TO) phase. It was concluded that below-knee amputees displayed the same basic jumping technique as elite able-bodied long jumpers, but above-knee amputees did not. These findings have implications for the training and technical preparation of amputee long jumpers.