More than seven out of 10 runners will sustain an injury over the course of a year, many of these injuries preventable without any adverse effects on running distance or performance, according to Dr. Irene Davis, director of the Running Injury Lab at the University of Delaware, and director of Research for Drayer Physical Therapy Institute.
In earlier studies, Dr. Davis identified the specific gait mechanics associated with common injuries. Now, in a study reported at the Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, DC, she explains how she successfully retrained runners to change their faulty gaits in eight half hour sessions, reducing leg shock by 50 percent and completely eliminating pain under the kneecap.
Her Experimental Biology presentation on April 30 is part of the scientific program of the American Association of Anatomists.
In the laboratory, Dr. Davis uses sophisticated biofeedback devices and monitors, but she says she does similar - and also effective - retraining in the physical therapy clinic at the University of Delaware using basic mechanical information, mirrors and advice to listen to the sound of ones own feet hitting the ground.
The two studies underway in Dr. Davis' laboratory now are with runners who were selected for the study because they were experiencing or had been identified as high risk for one of the two most common running-related injuries: tibial stress fractures (microfractures of the lower leg bone) and patellofemoral pain syndrome (pain under the kneecap).
Each runner undergoes an analysis of their gait. Runners then come to the laboratory for two days, take a day off, return for two, until they have had eight retraining sessions on a special treadmill. The first sessions last 15 minutes, and the final ones 30 minutes. Runners are not allowed to run outside the laboratory during retraining for fear of reinforcing old gait habits.
Dr. Daviss earlier gait mechanic
Contact: Sylvia Wrobel
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology