A kinematics and kinetic comparison of overground and treadmill running

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Jun;40(6):1093-100. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181677530.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the kinematic and kinetic parameters of treadmill running to those of overground running.

Methods: Twenty healthy young subjects ran overground at their self-selected moderate running speed. Motion capture and ground reaction force (GRF) data for three strides of each limb were recorded and the subjects' average running speed was evaluated. The subjects then ran on an instrumented treadmill set to their average overground running speed while motion capture and GRF data were recorded. The kinematics (body segment orientations and joint angles) and kinetics (net joint moments and joint powers) for treadmill (15 consecutive gait cycles) and overground running (three cycles each limb) were calculated and compared.

Results: The features of the kinematic and kinetic trajectories of treadmill gait were similar to those of overground gait. Statistically significant differences in knee kinematics,the peak values of GRF, joint moment, and joint power trajectories were identified.

Discussion: Parameters measured with an adequate instrumented treadmill are comparable to but not directly equivalent to those measured for overground running. With such an instrument, it is possible to study the mechanics of running under well-controlled and reproducible conditions.

Significance: Treadmill-based analysis of running mechanics can be generalized to overground running mechanics, provided the treadmill surface is sufficiently stiff and belt speed is adequately regulated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Track and Field / physiology