Content » Vol 50, Issue 6

Original report

Effects of push-off ability and handcycle type on handcycling performance in able-bodied participants

Ingrid Kouwijzer, Carla F.J. Nooijen, Kees van Breukelen, Thomas W.J. Janssen, Sonja de Groot
Amsterdam Rehabilitation Research Center, Reade, 1040 HG Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2343


Objective: To assess the effects on handcycling performance and physiological responses, of: (i) making a closed chain by comparing handcycling in a recumbent bike with 2-feet footrest (closed chain) with handcycling with 1 footrest (partial closed chain) and without a footrest (no closed chain); (ii) equipment by comparing handcycling in a recumbent bike with a kneeling bike.
Methods: Ten able-bodied participants performed submaximal exercise and sprint tests, once in a knee-ling bike and 3 times on a recumbent: 2-feet support, 1-foot support and without foot support. Physical strain (submaximal oxygen uptake and heart rate), peak (POpeak) and mean power output (POmean) were measured.
Results: Significantly higher POpeak and POmean were found with 2-feet support (mean 415 W (standard deviation (SD) 163) and mean 281 W (SD 96)) and higher POmean with 1-foot support (mean 279 W (SD 104)) compared with no foot support (mean 332 W (SD 127) and mean 254 W (SD 101)), p < 0. 05. No differences were found for physical strain. In the kneeling bike, POpeak and POmean were significantly higher (mean 628 W (SD 231) and 391 W (SD 121)) than in the recumbent (mean 415 W (SD 163) and 281 W (SD 96)), p = 0. 001.
Conclusion: The ability to make a closed chain has a significant positive effect on handcycling sprint performance; therefore, this ability may be a discriminating factor. Sprint performance was significantly higher in kneeling compared with recumbent handcycling.

Lay Abstract

A valid and clear classification system is essential to accomplish fair competition in handcycling. Sometimes athletes with different lower-limb abilities and, therefore, a different push-off ability, are grouped in the same class. In this study we investigated the effect of push-off ability during sprinting. It was concluded that the power output achieved with the push-off ability was significantly higher than without push-off ability. These findings should be taken into consideration in classification.


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