The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of strengthening and stretching exercises on running kinematics and kinetics in older runners. One hundred and five runners (55-75 years) were randomly assigned to either a strengthening (n = 36), flexibility (n = 34) or control (n = 35) group. Running kinematics and kinetics were obtained using an eight-camera system and an instrumented treadmill before and after the eight-week exercise protocol. Measures of strength and flexibility were also obtained using a dynamometer and inclinometer/goniometer. A time effect was observed for the excursion angles of the ankle sagittal (P = 0.004, d = 0.17) and thorax/pelvis transverse (P < 0.001, d = 0.20) plane. Similarly, a time effect was observed for knee transverse plane impulse (P = 0.013, d = 0.26) and ground reaction force propulsion (P = 0.042, d = -0.15). A time effect for hip adduction (P = 0.006, d = 0.69), ankle dorsiflexion (P = 0.002, d = 0.47) and hip internal rotation (P = 0.048, d = 0.30) flexibility, and hip extensor (P = 0.001, d = -0.48) and ankle plantar flexor (P = 0.01, d = 0.39) strength were also observed. However, these changes were irrespective of exercise group. The results of the present study indicate that an eight-week stretching or strengthening protocol, compared to controls, was not effective in altering age-related running biomechanics despite changes in ankle and trunk kinematics, knee kinetics and ground reaction forces along with alterations in muscle strength and flexibility were observed over time.
Keywords: Running; ageing; biomechanics; clinical trial; exercise.