Adjustments to gait were examined when positioning the foot within a narrow target at the end of an approach for two impact conditions, hard and soft. Participants (6 M, 6 F) ran toward a target of three lengths along a 10-m walkway consisting of two marker strips with alternating black and white 0.5-m markings. Five trials were conducted for each target length and impact task, with trials block randomized between the 6 participants of each gender. A 50-Hz digital video camera panned and filmed each trial from an elevated position adjacent to the walkway. Video footage was digitized to deduce the gait characteristics. A linear speed/accuracy tradeoff between target length and approach time was found for both impact tasks (hard, r = 0.99, p < 0.01; soft, r = 0.96, p < 0.05). For the hard-impact task, visual control time increased linearly (r = 0.99, p < 0.05) when whole-body approach velocity decreased. Visual control time was unaffected by whole-body approach velocity in the soft-impact task. A constant tau-margin of 1.08 describes the onset of visual control when approaching a target while running, with the control of braking during visual control described by a tau-dot of –0.85. Further research is needed to examine the control of braking in different targeting tasks.
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