Fatigue-Related Changes in Running Gait Patterns Persist in the Days Following a Marathon Race

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: The risk of experiencing an overuse running-related injury can increase with atypical running biomechanics associated with neuromuscular fatigue and/or training errors. While it is important to understand the changes in running biomechanics within a fatigue-inducing run, it may be more clinically relevant to assess gait patterns in the days following a marathon to better evaluate the effects of inadequate recovery on injury. Objective: To use center of mass (CoM) acceleration patterns to investigate changes in running patterns prior to (PRE) and at 2 (POST2) and 7 (POST7) days following a marathon race. Design: Pre–post intervention study. Setting: A 200-m oval track surface. Participants: Seventeen recreational marathon runners (10 females, age = 34.2 [5.67] y; 7 males, age = 47.41 [15.32] y). Intervention: Marathon race. Main Outcome Measures: An inertial measurement unit was placed near the CoM to collect triaxial acceleration data during overground running for PRE, POST2, and POST7 sessions. Twenty-two features were extracted from the acceleration waveforms to characterize different aspects of running gait. Lower-limb musculoskeletal pain was also recorded at each session with a visual analog scale. Results: At POST2, runners reported higher self-reported pain and exhibited elevated peak mediolateral acceleration with an increased mediolateral ratio of acceleration root mean square compared with PRE. At POST7, pain was reduced and more similar to PRE, with runners demonstrating increased stride regularity in the vertical direction and decreased peak resultant acceleration. Conclusions: The observed changes in CoM motion at POST2 may be associated with atypical running biomechanics that can translate to greater mediolateral impulses, potentially increasing the risk of injury. This study demonstrates the use of an accelerometer as an effective tool to detect atypical CoM motion for runners due to fatigue, recovery, and musculoskeletal pain in real-world environments.

Clermont, Pohl, and Ferber are with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Ferber is with the Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada; the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada; and Running Injury Clinic, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Clermont (christian.clermont@ucalgary.ca) is corresponding author.
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