September 22, 2016 – University research lab helping runners one step at a time
Some footwear stores videotape a jogger’s gait on a treadmill to help determine the kind of running shoe that would be the best fit. The University of Michigan is taking that practice a few steps beyond. The School of Kinesiology’s Michigan Performance Research Laboratory attaches motion-capture sensors to runners’ legs and upper body, has them jog on a treadmill outfitted with 10,000 sensors and does the old-school videotaping. The running-specific assessment that’s now available to the public, not just the school’s athletes, lasts about two hours and includes in-depth clinical and biomechanical evaluations.
It’s the “really unique technology” and “a lot of expertise” that sets the lab apart, according to Jessica Deneweth Zendler, the director of MiPR (pronounced “my PR”).
High school cross country runner Lydia Gilbert was looking to get a leg up on her competition and an answer to why she’s been suffering from nagging shin splints.
Following a clinical examination by Cristine Agresta, a physical therapist and post-doctoral research fellow, the 16-year-old junior from Ann Arbor was outfitted with the sensors and jogged on the treadmill at various speeds. A flat screen displayed a 3-D image of Gilbert’s skeleton as she ran.
After, Agresta ran through the preliminary results of the testing, which included footwear, musculoskeletal and postural evaluations as well as footprint pressure and 3-D gait analyses.