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Previous research has proposed that a lack of variability in lower extremity coupling during running is associated with pathology. The purpose of the study was to evaluate lower extremity coupling variability in runners with and without a history of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) during an exhaustive run. Sixteen runners ran to voluntary exhaustion on a motorized treadmill while a motion capture system recorded reflective marker locations. Eight runners had a history of ITBS. At the start and end of the run, continuous relative phase (CRP) angles and CRP variability between strides were calculated for key lower extremity kinematic couplings. The ITBS runners demonstrated less CRP variability than controls in several couplings between segments that have been associated with knee pain and ITBS symptoms, including tibia rotation–rearfoot motion and rearfoot motion–thigh ad/abduction, but more variability in knee flexion/extension–foot ad/abduction. The ITBS runners also demonstrated low variability at heel strike in coupling between rearfoot motion–tibia rotation. The results suggest that runners prone to ITBS use abnormal segmental coordination patterns, particular in couplings involving thigh ad/abduction and tibia internal/external rotation. Implications for variability in injury etiology are suggested.
Miller is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, and Meardon, Derrick, and Gillette are with the Department of Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.