Exploratory Investigation of Impact Loads During the Forward Handspring Vault

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The purpose of this study was to examine kinematic and kinetic differences in low and high intensity hand support impact loads during a forward handspring vault. A high-speed video camera (500 Hz) and two portable force platforms (500 Hz) were installed on the surface of the vault table. Two-dimensional analyses were conducted on 24 forward handspring vaults performed by 12 senior level, junior Olympic program female gymnasts (16.9 ±1.4 yr; body height 1.60 ±0.1 m; body mass 56.7 ±7.8 kg). Load intensities at impact with the vault table were classified as low (peak force < 0.8 × body weight) and high (peak force > 0.8 × body weight). These vaults were compared via crucial kinetic and kinematic variables using independent t-tests and Pearson correlations. Statistically significant (p < 0.001) differences were observed in peak force (t(24) = 4.75, ES = 3.37) and time to peak force (t(24) = 2.07, ES = 1.56). Statistically significant relationships between the loading rate and time to peak force were observed for high intensity loads. Peak force, time to peak force, and a shoulder angle at impact were identified as primary variables potentially involved in the determination of large repetitive loading rates on the forward handspring vault.

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