University of Limerick
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Are impact accelerations during treadmill running representative of those produced overground?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-13, 14:30 authored by Sarah DillonSarah Dillon, Aoife Burke, Enda F. Whyte, Siobhán O Connor, Shane Gore, Kieran A. Moran

Background: Although many runners train overground, measuring impact accelerations on a treadmill may be advantageous for researchers and clinicians. Previous investigations of peak and rate of acceleration (peakaccelrateaccel) during treadmill running compared to overground running have not examined both the relative consistency and absolute agreement of these measures, or the effect of treadmill stiffness. Research question: (1) Are peakaccel and rateaccel produced during running on a stiff and less stiff treadmill ‘representative’ of those produced during overground running? (2) Are peakaccel and rateaccel measured on treadmills of different stiffness ‘representative’ of each other? treadmills of different stiffness ‘representative’ of each other? 

Methods: Eighteen participants ran at a self-selected pace on three surfaces: Treadmill 1 (reduced stiffness), Treadmill 2 (increased stiffness) and overground on asphalt, whilst peakaccel and rateaccel were recorded at the shank and lower back. Relative consistency (ICC (3,1)), absolute agreement (Bland-Altman analysis) and systematic differences (ANOVA/Friedman’s Tests) were assessed. 

Results: ICCs revealed moderate to excellent relative consistency in peakaccel and rateaccel between surfaces, with higher consistency for measures at the lower back. Absolute agreement was low, with the Bland Altman limits of agreement exceeding the clinical acceptable range for all comparisons. For systematic differences in means, peakaccel and rateaccel at the shank were significantly higher overground than on either treadmill; with no difference evident at the lower back. No differences were found for surface with respect to shank or lower back  peakaccel and rateaccel between treadmills. 

Significance: Moderate to excellent relative consistency of peakaccel and rateaccel between the surfaces suggests that using different surfaces in research involving rank ordering of participants by acceleration magnitude may be acceptable (e.g. prospective studies examining if impact accelerations are related to injury). However, low absolute agreement indicates that data collected on treadmills of different stiffness and overground should not be used interchangeably (e.g. running-retraining studies).


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Gait and Posture, 98, 195-202



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  • Allied Health

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