Running Analysis & Technology

We’re always keen to provide runners with the best opportunity to understand more about running and specifically how runners run. We love using technology and combined with assessment this works well for helping runners to get over injury and improve performance. As a team of techno geeks, imagine our delight when we got our hands on DorsaVi. A wearable device that AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOEAAAAJGEyYTk4ODA1LWZhMzctNGNjNy1iZTVkLTMwZTkxOWRiNDE4ZQrunners or teams can use to monitor kinetic running data & kinematic knee data to understand the loads and biomechanics of the athlete.

Wearable devices have been used for several years in sport specifically HR monitors & GPS trackers used to monitor load, distance and intensity of players, both in training and competition situations. Even though new evidence is being published to help us understand that training loads are one factor linked to injury, this study from expert Gabbett is particularly comprehensive [Gabbett. 2007].

It’s become more complex to measure biomechanics in the field of play because we need 3D motion capture to fully assess motion in team sports, which is unpredictable in many team sports [Willy, 2017]. The assessment of biomechanics in runners within any sporting environment is extremely difficult, hence the advent of such technologies that help assess movement naturally are welcomed by us.

Running

What we we look for?

Ground Reaction Force [GRF] – The force created by contact with the ground is referred to as the ground reaction force (GRF). This is the force the ground exerts on the body as we move.  According to Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction [Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion – Law of Reaction]. As we make contact with the ground, gravity is constantly impacting the body [Young-Hoo Kwon, 1998: http://www.kwon3d.com/theory/grf/grf.html].ViMOve

Initial Peak Acceleration [IPA] – Correlates the vertical acceleration and loading rate through the tibia on ground contact, measured in G’s. The IPA being increased has been linked to higher rates of stress fractures [Crowell, 2011] and changes can be noted with alterations in cadence [Rios et al, 2010]. This graph illustrates these measurements nicely [DorsaVi ViMove2, Running Module Guide].

Cadence calculates steps per minute, two steps make up one stride. Recent research indicates shortening stride length and increases in cadence can help to reduce running injuries [https://www.runresearchjunkie.com/is-the-180-cadence-a-myth-or-something-to-aim-for/].

Absolute Symmetry Index [ASI] – is the calculation of average GRF Left vs Right. An example in DorsaVi would be a negative value indicates the right side is carrying more force compared to left.  A positive values shows left side is accepting more force than the right side. A normal deviation in ASI is 5% so we would want to reduce this whilst running [Herzog et al, 1989].

Speed – Looks at average speed over the course of the running time measured, usually measured in metres per second [m/s].

 

Everybody runs differently and this is dependent on multiple factors including:

1. Activity participation [distance runners, sprinters, team sports]

2. Running surface, environment & terrain [surface type, inclination, weather]

3. Running footwear

4. Position within a team or squad [defender Vs attacker]

5. Level of activity participation [elite Vs recreational]

 

What happens when these factors change?

Sports physio Paddy volunteered to test out the DorsaVi. We looked at his existing running style and implemented changes in order to measure the differences in kinetics data.

Within 15 minutes, we were able to assess Paddy clinically and on the treadmill. We looked at Paddy running at 9km/hr, 12km/hr & 16 km/hr. At each assessment, Paddy changed something in his gait to see what changes we noted in his kinetic data. The difficult question is, does kinetic data correlate to kinematics?

As the overview graph illustrates, Paddy completed 3 runs at 9 km/hr but what we can’t see from the graph is what kinematics changed.

  1. Rep 1 at 9 km/hr Paddy was running his normal gait pattern with no problems reported.
  2. Rep 2 at 9 km/hr Paddy changed his foot strike pattern which resulted in a reduction in cadence
  3. Rep 3 at 9 km/hr paddy attempted to shorten stride length and increase cadence
  4. Rep 4 at 12 km/hr increased speed which initially he achieved by increasing his cadence
  5. Rep 5 at 12 km/hr Paddy maintained his speed and his cadence settled to 173.
  6. Rep 6 at 16 km/hr we noted a huge ASI change which correlates to a previous lower limb injury Paddy has suffered on his right side. Increased IPA & GRF despite GCT becoming more symmetrical compared to previous speeds.

Conclusions

Overall, the DorsaVi running module kit is a game changer for us. It is portable and ease of use on the iPad. I would recommend it as suitable for all types, levels and style of runners. We only explored the running module in this article but the knee and lumbar spine assessment modules are great additions to any clinical assessment. The smart therapist would with clinical information, training information along with goal setting to get results with patients and athletes. The versatility of DorsaVi means its suitable for everyone not just sports people.

I’m yet to see any normal data ranges for athletes with GRF, IPA and GCT but differences in assessment and correlation can lead us to make assumptions – if the data supports the hypothesis of injury, then it can be used to change running gait, ultimately reduce pain and improve performance.

However, one question remains in my mind which I’ve not seen in research yet – Does kinetic data correlate to kinematics?

Thanks for reading.

Twitter: @taphysio

Instagram: @taphysio

 

References:

Gabbett & Domrow. (2007). Relationships between training load, injury, and fitness in sub-elite collision sport athletes. Journal of sports sciences. 25. 1507-19. 10.1080/02640410701215066.

Young-Hoo Kwon. (1998). Webite: http://www.kwon3d.com/theory/grf/grf.html. Accessed December 2017

Harrison Philip Crowell and Irene S. Davis. (2011). Gait Retraining to Reduce Lower Extremity Loading in Runners. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2011 Jan; 26(1): 78–83.

Jaqueline Lourdes Rios, Mário Cesar de Andrade, Aluisio Otavio Vargas Avila. Analysis of Peak Tibial Acceleration During Gait in Different Cadences. Human Movement 2, December 1, 2010.

HerzogNiggReadOlson . (1989). Asymmetries in group reaction force patterns in normal human gait. Med Sci Sports Exerc; 21: 110114

Baggaley, Willy, Meardon. (2017). Primary and secondary effects of real‐time feedback to reduce vertical loading rate during running. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 27 (5), 501-507

Endurance Test – South Downs – South Downs MTB

images
Wonderful Image of Richard Sterry on South Downs from Anne Dickins – http://annedickins24.blogspot.co.uk/

So the South Downs mountain bike endurance race is just a round the corner, and to give those crazy enough to take on this 17 hour challenge, you may want some insider tips to get one up on fellow enthusiasts.
Many cyclists taking part in this challenge are already in training, if you’re not then it probably best you get training now and make friends with your mountain bike saddle.
It’s common for novices to partake in these events without thorough preparation, but even experienced endurance athletes get injuries. Hopefully, this will give you some training advice and preparation to avoid injury. The basis of any good training should consist of the following approach: –
1. Functional
2. Tapered & Endurance Based
3. Restful
4. Race Prepared
1. Functional training is a key component in many prehab and rehab programmes. The therapy behind this approach to training is quite simple, train the muscles and respiratory systems to do what you want them to do. It’s important to put the time in on the bike to feel the benefit when it comes to race day. It’s not good enough to just poodle around to your local shop, you need to put in the hours on your bike including things like repeated hill climbs. Other than wearing out the tires on your bike, you can do some function training at the gym too. Kettlebell training is a good example of function training that trains all over the body as well focusing on the large muscles group that extends the hips known as glutes. During cycling, the glutes play a massive role in producing the power phase, this is demonstrated perfectly below with the red muscle group (A).

cycling muscles

2. Tapered training – The importance of training is obvious if you want to succeed at endurance events, muscles don’t adopt by sitting in front of the TV, however, training needs to be tapered and graduated. Realistically, this 17 hour mountain bike event is the equivalent of running a marathon, so gradually incremental training is key. The best way to monitor your training increments, is by totalling the mileage ridden each week, but training is not just about miles. As well as distance and endurance, training for these events need o include speed sessions on hills. Not all mountain biking is down hill, so get on those hills and push your self to the limits and you will notice easier ascent during the 17 hour marathon.

IMG_7504_Josh-SDD-23_09_
Josh Ibbett smashes South Downs Double record: 17h 47m 30s

3. Restful training does not mean sitting in front of the TV watching mountain bike videos and wistfully thinking that’s going to make you a better rider. It’s equally important to get rest days catered into your training routine as it is intense training days. During these rest days, even consider daily activities as a work out i.e climbing stairs, going to work, walking to the shops. Rest is important for recovering muscles as well as a balanced diet and high nutritional intake.4. Being race prepared is vital, do not underestimate the power of the mind. Have a strategy in mind that will help you complete the race, pace your self to save some energy for the final push. An other key element in race preparation is ensuring your bike is biomechanical set-up to give you that extra advantage, its worth spending money to get a professional bike fitting, it may just help you pip your mate to the post. And finally, dont be afraid to attempt an event before the main event, this will enable to put all these race preparations into practice and iron out any gremlins.

Down and Dirty
Down and Dirty

Happy biking and enjoy the race.
Thanks for reading
TA Physio