Use of wearable sensors to identify biomechanical alterations in runners with Exercise-Related lower leg pain

J Biomech. 2021 Sep 20;126:110646. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2021.110646. Epub 2021 Jul 23.


Exercise-related lower leg pain (ERLLP) is one of the most prevalent running-related injuries, however little is known about injured runners' mechanics during outdoor running. Establishing biomechanical alterations among ERLLP runners would help guide clinical interventions. Therefore, we sought to a) identify defining biomechanical features among ERLLP runners compared to healthy runners during outdoor running, and b) identify biomechanical thresholds to generate objective gait-training recommendations. Thirty-two ERLLP (13 M, age: 21 ± 5 years, BMI: 22.69 ± 2.25 kg/m2) and 32 healthy runners (13 M, age: 23 ± 6 years, BMI: 22.33 ± 3.20 kg/m2) were assessed using wearable sensors during one week of typical outdoor training. Step-by-step data were extracted to assess kinetic, kinematic, and spatiotemporal measures. Preliminary feature extraction analyses were conducted to determine key biomechanical differences between healthy and ERLLP groups. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) and variability assessments were used compare groups on the identified features. Participants were split into 3 pace bands, and mean differences across groups were calculated to establish biomechanical thresholds. Contact time was the key differentiating feature for ERRLP runners. ANCOVA assessments reflected that the ERLLP group had increased contact time (Mean Difference [95% Confidence Interval] = 8 ms [6.9,9.1], p < .001), and approximate entropy analyses reflected greater contact time variability. Contact time differences were dependent upon running pace, with larger between-group differences being exhibited at faster paces. In all, ERLLP runners demonstrated longer contact time than healthy runners during outdoor training. Clinicians should consider contact time when assessing and treating these ERLLP runner patients.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Gait; Medial tibial stress syndrome; Shin splints.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exercise
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Leg*
  • Pain
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*
  • Young Adult