Increased running experience and more time spent running appears to be advantageous in reducing injury risk, although the reason behind this is unclear. It is plausible that more experience results in better running mechanics leading to less injuries. Running mechanics are often screened during clinical assessments and targeted for correction in gait retraining, particularly those thought to be global indicators of injury or those associated with elevated knee joint loading. Examining the biomechanics of runners who are less-injury prone can improve our understanding of the significance of faulty running mechanics in relation to injury. Our goal was to examine if running experience was correlated to differences in kinematics and kinetics associated with increased knee joint loading and running-related injury risk.
One hundred runners with varying experience ran on a pressure-sensing treadmill at a self-selected speed. Trunk and lower extremity kinematics, spatiotemporal measures, and ground reaction forces were collected. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the association between experience and three-dimensional hip kinematics, sagittal plane lower-extremity mechanics, and ground reaction forces while controlling for age and speed.
Increased running experience was not significantly associated with running mechanics. Increased age was significantly associated with reduced peak knee flexion and increased contact time. Running speed influenced several spatiotemporal, kinematic, and kinetic variables.
Increased years of running experience does not appear to significantly influence running mechanics. However, age and running speed do influence biomechanical variables associated with injury in distance runners. Thus, there may be factors, other than running mechanics, that contribute to less risk in more experienced runners.