Purpose: It has been suggested that during running proper coordination between subtalar joint pronation/supination and knee joint flexion/extension via tibial rotation is important to attenuate ground reaction impact forces (GRIF). Lack of coordination may produce over time a wide range of injuries. The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between subtalar pronation/supination and knee flexion/extension with GRIF increases during distance running.
Methods: Eight subjects ran under different speeds (a self-selected pace, 10% faster, 10% slower, and 20% faster) and over different obstacle heights (5%, 10%, and 15% of their standing height) on their self-selected pace. Sagittal, rear-view kinematic, and GRIF data were collected. The biomechanical results were also compared with data from a clinical evaluation of the subjects.
Results: Speed changes and obstacle heights produced increases in GRIF and differences between rearfoot and knee angular velocities. The higher the obstacle and the faster the speed, the greater the GRIF and the greater the velocity differences. A change of the rearfoot angle curve from a unimodal (one minimum) to a bimodal (two minimums) parabolic configuration was also observed. The appearance of the second minimum was attributed to a lateral deviation of the tibia as a rebound effect due to the increased impact with the ground. The velocity differences between the actions of the subtalar and the knee joint, which in essence capture the antagonistic nature of their relationship, produced the highest correlation with the clinical evaluation.
Conclusions: It was suggested that a possible mechanism responsible for various running injuries could be lack of coordination between subtalar and knee joint actions. This mechanism may have potential for predicting runners with susceptibility to injury.