Wheelchair racing: effects of rim diameter and speed on physiology and technique

L H van der Woude, DirkJan (H. E. J.) Veeger, R H Rozendal, G J van Ingen Schenau, F Rooth, P van Nierop

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Effects of different hand rim diameters in wheelchair racing were studied with respect to physiological and technique parameters at five speed levels (N = 8 wheelchair sportsmen). In each of five subsequent 15-min exercise tests on a treadmill, a different sized hand rim was mounted to the rear wheels (0.3, 0.35, 0.38, 0.47, 0.56 m). In each test, speed increased with 0.83 m.s-1 every 3 min, starting at 0.83 m.s-1 and ranging up to 4.17 m.s-1 (slope: 0.5 degrees). Cardiorespiratory responses (ventilation, oxygen cost, heart rate, respiratory exchange ratio, mechanical efficiency) and timing data (cycle time, push time, recovery time, push angle, and work per cycle) were obtained every 3rd min, together with the movement pattern of trunk and arm segments. Clear effects of rim diameter and speed were seen for the physiological parameters (P less than 0.05). In physiological terms, D5 appeared the least beneficial, followed by D4. Moreover, increasing rim diameter had a significant effect on movement pattern of the upper arm in the sagittal as well the frontal plane of motion. However, no timing effects were seen with changing rim diameter. On the other hand, timing parameters varied markedly with speed, whereas the segmental excursions of the upper limb did not show a "speed-effect". In general, small hand rims show lower cardiorespiratory responses. This may be related to the decreased segmental excursions of the upper limb and the lower linear hand velocity. Together with a low rolling and air drag, heart rate, and oxygen cost, these are important prerequisites in racing events.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-500
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct-1988


  • Adult
  • Efficiency
  • Equipment Design
  • Exercise
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Sports
  • Wheelchairs

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