The effect of running velocity on footstrike angle - a curve-clustering approach

2015-02-09T16:07:21Z (GMT) by Steph Forrester J. Townend
Despite a large number of studies that have considered footstrike pattern, relatively little is known about how runners alter their footstrike pattern with running velocity. The purpose of this study was to determine how footstrike pattern, defined by footstrike angle (FSA), is affected by running velocity in recreational athletes. One hundred and two recreational athletes ran on a treadmill at up to ten set velocities ranging from 2.2–6.1 m s−1. Footstrike angle (positive rearfoot strike, negative forefoot strike), as well as stride frequency, normalised stride length, ground contact time and duty factor, were obtained from sagittal plane high speed video captured at 240 Hz. A probabilistic curve-clustering method was applied to the FSA data of all participants. The curve-clustering analysis identified three distinct and approximately equally sized groups of behaviour: (1) small/negative FSA throughout; (2) large positive FSA at low velocities (≤4 m s−1) transitioning to a smaller FSA at higher velocities (≥5 m s−1); (3) large positive FSA throughout. As expected, stride frequency was higher, while normalised stride length, ground contact time and duty factor were all lower for Cluster 1 compared to Cluster 3 across all velocities; Cluster 2 typically displayed intermediate values. These three clusters of FSA – velocity behaviour, and in particular the two differing trends observed in runners with a large positive FSAs at lower velocities, can provide a novel and relevant means of grouping athletes for further assessment of their running biomechanics.