30 recreational runners were enrolled for this study.
The running volume of all participants had crossed 24.1 km·wk–1 in the preceding 3 months. None had any history of injuries or surgery to the lower limbs and did not complain of any pain whilst running.
Each participant was asked to run for 5 minutes on a treadmill at his or her preferred speed in order to determine their preferred step rate. Once this was established, the participants were asked to run at a step rate equal to 90%, 100% or 110% of their preferred step rate.
An 8-camera, passive motion-capture system was used to record whole-body-kinematics for 15 seconds during each of the runs, while an instrumented treadmill simultaneously recorded ground reaction forces and moments.
Participants were fitted with 40 markers; 21 on anatomical landmarks and 14 on rigid plates strapped to the thighs and shanks.
A 3-D musculoskeletal model with 29 degrees of freedom (DOF) was created to determine muscle forces required to produce the measured joint accelerations during running.
The gluteus medius was observed to produce peak forces greater than that of any other hip muscle, including the gluteus maximus.
An increased running step rate led to an increase in hip flexor, hamstring and hip extensor loading in swing, but it also led to a reduction in peak force and work for several hip muscles such as the gluteal muscles and piriformis, during loading response.
These results can help clinicians refine several of the treatment strategies recommended for running-related injuries such as resistance exercises and gait retraining.
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