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Hip muscle loads during running at various step rates

PainSci » bibliography » Lenhart et al 2014
Tags: etiology, running, injury, hip, muscle, neat, pro, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, pain problems

One article on PainSci cites Lenhart 2014: Is Running on Pavement Risky?

PainSci commentary on Lenhart 2014: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

In this study, the strength of muscle contractions during running was estimated by taking data from motion capture video (mostly) and plugging it into a computer to calculate the forces that muscles had to generate to move body parts. They claim to have produced evidence of “substantially” more powerful gluteus medius and minimus contractions than any other hip muscle: “The sum of peak forces from the gluteus medius and minimus, 2 primary hip abductors, was 3.5 times that of the gluteus maximus, a primary hip extensor.” This suggests that gluteus medius and minimus are powerful and important running muscles, more so than the much more famous gluteus maximus.

The modelling method is technology sorcery of the authors’ own design, described in a previous paper (Lenhart), and I have some concern about its reliability: there are quite a few ways complex models can go wrong, and the authors do acknowledge that. I take the interesting results seriously, but also with a grain of salt.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study, cross-sectional.

OBJECTIVES: To characterize hip muscle forces and powers during running, and to determine how these quantities change when altering step rate for a given running speed.

BACKGROUND: Hip musculature has been implicated in a variety of running-related injuries and, as such, is often the target of rehabilitation interventions, including resistance exercises and gait retraining. The differential contributions of the hip muscles to the task of running are not well understood, and may be important for recognizing the biomechanical mechanisms of running-related injuries and refining current treatment and prevention strategies.

METHODS: Thirty healthy participants ran at their preferred speed at 3 different step rates: 90%, 100%, and 110% of their preferred step rate. Whole-body kinematics and ground reaction forces were recorded. A 3-D musculoskeletal model was used to estimate muscle forces needed to produce the measured joint accelerations. Forces and powers of each muscle were compared across step-rate conditions.

RESULTS: Peak force produced by the gluteus medius during running was substantially greater than that of any other hip muscle, with the majority of muscles displaying a period of negative work immediately preceding positive work. The higher running step rate led to an increase in hip flexor, hamstring, and hip extensor loading during swing, but, conversely, substantially diminished peak force and work during loading response for several hip muscles, including the gluteal muscles and piriformis.

CONCLUSION: Increasing running step rate for a given running speed heightened hamstring and gluteal muscle loading in late swing, while decreasing stance-phase loading in the gluteal muscles and piriformis. These results may enable clinicians to support and refine current treatment strategies, including exercise prescription and gait retraining for running-related injuries.

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