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Purpose: Altered movement complexity, indicative of system dysfunction, has been demonstrated with increased running velocity and neuromuscular fatigue. The critical velocity (CV) denotes a metabolic and neuromuscular fatigue threshold. It remains unclear whether changes to complexity during running are coupled with the exercise intensity domain in which it is performed. The purpose of this study was to examine whether movement variability and complexity differ exclusively above the CV intensity during running.

Methods: Ten endurance-trained participants ran at 95%, 100%, 105% and 115% CV for 20 min or to task failure, whichever occurred first. Movement at the hip, knee, and ankle were sampled throughout using 3D motion analysis. Complexity of kinematics in the first and last 30 s were quantified using sample entropy (SampEn) and detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA-α). Variability was determined using standard deviation (SD).

Results: SampEn decreased during all trials in knee flexion/extension and it increased in hip internal/external rotation, whilst DFA-α increased in knee internal/external rotation. SD of ankle plantar/dorsiflexion and inversion/eversion, knee internal/external rotation, and hip flexion/extension and abduction/adduction increased during trials. Hip flexion/extension SampEn values were lowest below CV. DFA-α was lower at higher velocities compared to velocities below CV in ankle plantar/dorsiflexion, hip flexion/extension, hip adduction/abduction, hip internal/external rotation. In hip flexion/extension SD was highest at 115% CV.

Conclusions: Changes to kinematic complexity over time are consistent between heavy and severe intensity domains. The findings suggest running above CV results in increased movement complexity and variability, particularly at the hip, during treadmill running.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Early online date12 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Feb 2021


  • Complexity
  • Exercise
  • Non-linear dynamics
  • Running
  • Variability


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