BACKGROUND: Fatigue is an essential component of distance running. Still, little is known about the effects of running induced fatigue on three-dimensional lower extremity joint movement, in particular in the frontal and transverse planes of motion.
RESEARCH QUESTION: How are non-sagittal plane lower extremity joint kinematics of runners altered during a 10 km treadmill run with near-maximum effort?
METHODS: In a cross-sectional study design, we captured three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics at regular intervals throughout a 10 km treadmill run in 24 male participants (subdivided into a competitive and recreational runner group) at a speed corresponding to 105 % of their season-best time. We calculated average and peak joint angles at the hip, knee and ankle during the stance phase.
RESULTS: We observed peak deviations of 3.5°, 3° and 5° for the hip (more adduction), knee (more abduction) and ankle (more eversion) in the frontal plane when comparing the final (10 km) with the first (0 km) measurement. At the end of the run peak knee internal rotation angles increased significantly (up to 3° difference). Running with a more abducted knee joint and with a higher demand for hip abductor muscles in the unfatigued state was related to greater fatigue-induced changes of joint kinematics at the knee and hip.
SIGNIFICANCE: The fatigue related change of non-sagittal joint kinematics needs to be considered when addressing risk factors for running-related injuries, when designing shoe interventions as well as strengthening and gait retraining protocols for runners. We speculate that strengthening ankle invertors and hip abductors and monitoring the dynamic leg axis during running appear to be promising in preventing fatigue induced alterations of non-sagittal joint kinematics.