Comparison of three-dimensional lower extremity running kinematics of young adult and elderly runners

J Sports Sci. 2008 Nov;26(13):1447-54. doi: 10.1080/02640410802209018.


The objective of this study was to compare the three-dimensional lower extremity running kinematics of young adult runners and elderly runners. Seventeen elderly adults (age 67-73 years) and 17 young adults (age 26-36 years) ran at 3.1 m x s(-1) on a treadmill while the movements of the lower extremity during the stance phase were recorded at 120 Hz using three-dimensional video. The three-dimensional kinematics of the lower limb segments and of the ankle and knee joints were determined, and selected variables were calculated to describe the movement. Our results suggest that elderly runners have a different movement pattern of the lower extremity from that of young adults during the stance phase of running. Compared with the young adults, the elderly runners had a substantial decrease in stride length (1.97 vs. 2.23 m; P = 0.01), an increase in stride frequency (1.58 vs. 1.37 Hz; P = 0.002), less knee flexion/extension range of motion (26 vs. 33 degrees ; P = 0.002), less tibial internal/external rotation range of motion (9 vs. 12 degrees ; P < 0.001), larger external rotation angle of the foot segment (toe-out angle) at the heel strike (-5.8 vs. -1.0 degrees ; P = 0.009), and greater asynchronies between the ankle and knee movements during running. These results may help to explain why elderly individuals could be more susceptible to running-related injuries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Running / physiology*
  • Young Adult