Jan 1, 1989

The spring-mass model for running and hopping

Journal of Biomechanics
R Blickhan


A simple spring-mass model consisting of a massless spring attached to a point mass describes the interdependency of mechanical parameters characterizing running and hopping of humans as a function of speed. The bouncing mechanism itself results in a confinement of the free parameter space where solutions can be found. In particular, bouncing frequency and vertical displacement are closely related. Only a few parameters, such as the vector of the specific landing velocity and the specific leg length, are sufficient to determine the point of operation of the system. There are more physiological constraints than independent parameters. As constraints limit the parameter space where hopping is possible, they must be tuned to each other in order to allow for hopping at all. Within the range of physiologically possible hopping frequencies, a human hopper selects a frequency where the largest amount of energy can be delivered and still be stored elastically. During running and hopping animals use flat angles of the landing velocity resulting in maximum contact length. In this situation ground reaction force is proportional to specific contact time and total displacement is proportional to the square of the step duration. Contact time...Continue Reading

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