Sex differences in fatigue

Sex differences in fatigability during running and consequences on shoe design

Trainee:Thibault Besson (PhD Student)

Collaborators: Dr Jérémy Rossi (LIBM Saint-Etienne), Dr Cedric Morio (Décathlon)


Scientific summary

It is well known that a trail running race induces alterations to both central and peripheral components of the neuromuscular system. Strength loss increases with increased exercise duration however sex difference in fatigability following prolonged running exercise is still under studied. The majority of the literature pertaining to sex differences in fatigability uses single-limb contraction modalities to explore the underpinning mechanisms, which might not necessarily translate to whole-body exercise. Previous research from our laboratory reported that males experienced greater maximal voluntary contraction declines in the knee-extensors, and greater peripheral fatigue in the plantar flexor muscles following an ultramarathon. It is however important to further characterize sex differences in fatigability on more participants and more running distances. This is the first purpose of this PhD project.

There are well-known anatomical, physiological and psychological differences between men and women that may affect running performance and biomechanics. Numerous variations of running and walking shoes have been developed to adjust to different types of population or running/walking styles. As biomechanics of locomotion is sex dependent, men and women would probably also adapt differently to a specific shoe type and thus might need adapted requirement. The second objective of this PhD project is thus to investigate shoe-induced adaptations of locomotion, combined or not with a fatiguing task, in both men and women.


Key words: sex differences, shoe design, fatigue, trail running, ultra-marathon.