Spring-loaded body mass equivalent horizontal reactive countermovement jump ground contact and flight times, but not peak forces, are comparable to vertical jumping.


Jones EJ(1), Kennett JE(2), Green DA(3).
Author information:
(1)Centre of Human & Applied Physiological Sciences
(CHAPS), King's College London, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK; Clinical, Metabolic and Molecular Physiology, MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, National Institute for Health Research
(NIHR) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
(2)Physical Mind London, 135 High Street, Teddington, London TW11 8HH, UK.
(3)Centre of Human & Applied Physiological Sciences
(CHAPS), King's College London, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK; KBR, Wyle Laboratories GmbH, Albin-Koebis Strasse 4, 51174 Cologne, Germany; Space Medicine Team, HRE-OM, European Astronaut Centre, European Space Agency, Linder Höhe, Cologne 51147, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


Horizontal (cylinder-based) sledge jumping has been shown to ameliorate multi-system deconditioning induced by long-term bed-rest. However, biomechanics differ from 1 g vertical jumping, in particular prolongation of ground contact times (GCT), reduction of peak force, rate of force development (RFD) (and presumably stretch shortening cycle [SSC] efficacy) and stiffness, whilst also requiring relatively complex equipment. Thus, we sought to determine if horizontal spring-loaded countermovement jumps were more analogous to vertical jumping. 9 healthy (5 female) subjects (27 ± 7yrs; 169.0 ± 5.3 cm; 63.6 ± 2.6 kg) performed 10 reactive countermovement jumps vertically, and horizontally (randomized) when lay on a spring-loaded carriage performed against loading (at lift-off) equivalent (±6%) to their body weight. Jump kinetics, kinematics and lower limb/trunk electromyographic activity were compared between conditions (paired t-tests). Mean flight and GCTs did not differ, however, peak jump height (p = 0.003; d = -0.961) was greater when jumping horizontally. In contrast, ground reaction forces (zGRF) during take-off (p < 0.001; d = 1.645) and landing (p = 0.002; d = 1.309), peak acceleration (p = 0.001; d = 1.988), leg stiffness (p = 0.001; d = 2.371) and RFD (p = 0.023; d = 1.255) were lower horizontally. Mean rectus femoris activity was lower during landing (p = 0.033; d = 0.691) when horizontal, but did not differ during either take-off or land-lift. Mean medial gastrocnemius activity was significantly (p = 0.018; d = 0.317) lower during horizontal take-off. Spring-loading (1 g at take-off) maintained short GCTs and flight times presumably maintaining muscle SSC efficacy in a manner that appears intuitive (in young active subjects), simple, robust and potentially compatible with spaceflight. Whether appropriate jump characteristics can be achieved in older subjects and in μg/hypogravity needs to be determined. However, greater jump height, lower peak zGRF, RFD and leg stiffness along with reduced lower limb and trunk muscle activity suggests that 1 g at take-off is insufficient to replicate vertical jump biomechanics. Thus, further investigation is warranted to optimize, and evaluate spring-loaded jumping as a gravity-independent multi-systems countermeasure on Earth, and in Space.