Relationship between duty factor and external forces in slow recreational runners

BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2021 Mar 3;7(1):e000996. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000996. eCollection 2021.


Objectives: Recreational runners show a large interindividual variation in spatiotemporal characteristics. This research focused on slow runners and intended: (1) to document the variance in duty factor (DF) between runners in a real-life running setting and (2) examine whether the interindividual variation in DF and stride frequency (SF) relates to differences in external loading parameters between runners.

Methods: Spatiotemporal characteristics of 23 slow runners (ie, <2.6 m/s) were determined during a 5.2 km running event. To relate the interindividual variation in DF and SF to differences in external forces between runners (maximal vertical ground reaction force (FzMax), peak braking force (PBF) and vertical instantaneous loading rate (VILR)), 14 of them were invited to the lab. They ran at 1.9 m/s on a treadmill while ground reaction forces were recorded. A multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to investigate the effect of DF and SF on external force measures.

Results: DF between slow runners varied from 42.50% to 56.49% in a recreational running event. DF was found to be a significant predictor of FzMax (R²=0.755) and PBF (R²=0.430). SF only improved the model for PBF, but to a smaller extent than DF (R² change=0.191). For VILR, neither DF nor SF were significant predictors.

Conclusion: External forces are lower in recreational runners that run with higher DFs and slightly lower SFs. These findings may be important for injury prevention purposes, especially directed to recreational runners that are more prone to overuse injuries.

Keywords: biomechanics; injury; running.