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  6. Field based gait retraining to reduce lower extremity loads in runners

Field based gait retraining to reduce lower extremity loads in runners

Lead investigator Dr Andrew Barnes
Funded by Engineering for Life
Amount to date £4,500

Aim

To develop a field-based system to measure tibial shock and provide biofeedback for gait retraining.

Description

Stress injuries - such as tibial stress fractures - are a significant problem for runners. The implications are potentially severe, with significant loss of training and considerable individual frustration. Greater tibial shock during landing is a predictor of stress injuries in runners and modifying gait to reduce shock could decrease risk.

Gait retraining has been used to reduce tibial shock during running, with reductions of almost 50% being observed (see Crowell and Davis, 2011). However, these programmes have been confined to treadmill running in a laboratory.

In this project, the centre developed a field-based system to measure tibial shock and provide biofeedback for gait retraining. The system comprises a 3-axis accelerometer, worn on the leg, and a Bluetooth unit and power source worn on the laces of the running shoe. Data from the accelerometer are sampled at 1000 Hz and transmitted via Bluetooth to an Android smartphone. Audio feedback, modulated based on the magnitude of peak tibial shock, is provided to the user via headphones connected to the phone. Users are prompted to adapt their running technique to reduce excessive loads.

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