Limits in reliability of leg-spring and joint stiffness measures during single-leg hopping within a sled-based system

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Copyright: © 2019 Diggin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Research examining the reliability of stiffness measures during hopping has shown strong consistency in leg-spring stiffness (kleg), but high variability in joint stiffness (kjoint) measures. Sled-based systems (SBS) reduce movement degrees-of-freedom and are used to examine stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) function under controlled conditions. The aim of this study was to examine the reliability of kleg and kjoint during single-leg hopping within an SBSKinematic and kinetic data were collected on four occasions (Day_1, Day_2, Day_3 and Day_3Offset). Participants completed two trials of single-leg hopping at different frequencies (1.5, 2.2 and 3.0 Hz) while attached to an inclined-SBS. Stiffness was determined using models of leg-spring (kleg) and torsional (kjoint) stiffness. Statistical analysis identified absolute and relative measures of reliability. Results showed moderate reliability for kleg at 1.5 Hz between inter-day testing bouts, and weak consistency at 2.2 and 3.0 Hz. Examination of intra-day comparisons showed weak agreement for repeated measures of kleg at 1.5 and 2.2 Hz, but moderate agreement at 3.0 Hz. Limits in kleg reliability were accompanied by weak-to-moderate agreement in kjoint measures across inter- and intra-day testing bouts. Results showed limits in the reliability of stiffness measures relative to previous reports on overground hopping. Lack of consistency in kleg and kjoint may be due to the novelty of hopping within the current inclined-SBS. Constraints imposed on the hopping task resulting from SBS design (e.g. additional chair mass, restricting upper body movement) may have also influenced limits in kleg and kjoint reliability. Researchers should consider these findings when employing inclined-SBS of a similar design to examine SSC function.

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