Determinants of optimal leg use strategy: horizontal to vertical transition in the parkour wall climb
The Journal of experimental biology
Company of Biologists Ltd
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre of Exercise and Sports Science Research
This study examined the mechanics of the horizontal to vertical transition used by parkour athletes in wall climbing. We used this task as an alternative to normal running - where the functional options differ substantially - exposing the movement control priorities required to successfully complete the task. Ground reaction forces were measured in several expert parkour athletes and centre of mass trajectory was calculated from force plates embedded in the ground and the wall. Empirical measures were compared with movements predicted by a work-based control optimization model. The model captured the fundamental dynamics of the transition and therefore allowed an exploration of parameter sensitivity for success at the manoeuvre (run-up speed, foot placement, etc.). The optimal transition of both the model and the parkour athletes used a common intermediate run-up speed and appears determined largely by a trade-off between positive and negative leg work that accomplishes the task with minimum overall work.