Previous studies have used accelerometers with various operating ranges (ORs) when measuring biomechanical parameters. However, it is still unclear whether ORs influence the accuracy of running parameters, and whether the different stiffnesses of footwear midsoles influence this accuracy. The purpose of the present study was to systematically investigate the influence of OR on the accuracy of stride length, running velocity, and on peak tibial acceleration. Twenty-one recreational heel strike runners ran on a 15-m indoor track at self-selected running speeds in three footwear conditions (low to high midsole stiffness). Runners were equipped with an inertial measurement unit (IMU) affixed to the heel cup of the right shoe and with a uniaxial accelerometer at the right tibia. Accelerometers (at the tibia and included in the IMU) with a high OR of ±70 g were used as the reference and the data were cut at ±32, ±16, and at ±8 g in post-processing, before calculating parameters. The results show that the OR influenced the outcomes of all investigated parameters, which were not influenced by tested footwear conditions. The lower ORs were associated with an underestimation error for all biomechanical parameters, which increased noticeably with a decreasing OR. It can be concluded that accelerometers with a minimum OR of ±32 g should be used to avoid inaccurate measurements.
Keywords: accelerometer; operating range; peak tibial acceleration; running velocity; stride length; wearable sensors.