Surface acceleration transmission during drop landings in humans


The purpose of this study was to quantify the magnitude and frequency content of surface-measured accelerations at each major human body segment from foot to head during impact landings. Twelve males performed two single leg drop landings from each of 0.15 m, 0.30 m, and 0.45 m. Triaxial accelerometers (2000 Hz) were positioned over the: first metatarsophalangeal joint; distal anteromedial tibia; superior to the medial femoral condyle; L5 vertebra; and C6 vertebra. Analysis of acceleration signal power spectral densities revealed two distinct components, 2-14 Hz and 14-58 Hz, which were assumed to correspond to time domain signal joint rotations and elastic wave tissue deformation, respectively. Between each accelerometer position from the metatarsophalangeal joint to the L5 vertebra, signals exhibited decreased peak acceleration, increased time to peak acceleration, and decreased power spectral density integral of both the 2-14 Hz and 14-58 Hz components, with no further attenuation beyond the L5 vertebra. This resulted in peak accelerations close to vital organs of less than 10% of those at the foot. Following landings from greater heights, peak accelerations measured distally were greater, as was attenuation prior to the L5 position. Active and passive mechanisms within the lower limb therefore contribute to progressive attenuation of accelerations, preventing excessive accelerations from reaching the torso and head, even when distal accelerations are large.

In Journal of Biomechanics

Stuart McErlain-Naylor
Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics