The Role of Running Mileage on Coordination Patterns in Running

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Injury rates among runners are high, with the knee injured most frequently. The interaction of running experience and running mechanics is not well understood but may be important for understanding relative injury risk in low vs higher mileage runners. The study aim was to apply a principal component analysis (PCA) to test the hypothesis that differences exist in kinematic waveforms and coordination between higher and low mileage groups. Gait data were collected for 50 subjects running at 3.5 m/s assigned to either a low (< 15 miles/wk) or higher (> 20 miles/wk, 1 year experience) mileage group. A PCA was performed on a matrix of trial vectors of all force, joint kinematic, and center of pressure data. The projection of the subjects’ trial vectors onto the linear combination of PC7, PC10, PC13, and PC19 was significantly different between the higher and lower mileage groups (d = 0.63, P = .012). This resultant PC represented variation in transverse plane pelvic rotation, hip internal rotation, and hip and knee abduction and adduction angles. These results suggest the coordination of lower extremity segment kinematics is different for lower and higher mileage runners. The adopted patterns of coordinated motion may explain the lower incidence of overuse knee injuries for higher mileage runners.

Katherine A. Boyer, Julia Freedman Silvernail, and Joseph Hamill are with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts. Address author correspondence to Katherine A. Boyer at kboyer@kin.umass.edu.