Health & Medicine - Posted by Chris Jones-Cardiff on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 13:33 - 2 Comments
Running in reverse takes pressure off knees
CARDIFF U. (UK) — Running backwards generally puts less pressure on your knee joints, say scientists.
Because running backwards isn’t a very practical solution, the team hopes to build on their findings by suggesting forward running styles that could enable people with anterior knee pain to stay active.
Straight from the Source
Working with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, researchers collected and analyzed data relating to the compressive forces acting on the knee joint from 20 people who were taught techniques to run forwards and backwards.
In 85 percent of the participants, researchers found that the compressive forces behind the kneecap are increased in forward running compared to running backwards, report the researchers, from the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, based at Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Studies.
Participants were recruited and taught to run at a speed of 2.8 to 3.4 meters per second. Speeds when running forwards and backwards were virtually identical for all participants.
The researchers collected data by placing reflective markers on the participants’ legs, video recording the session with infrared cameras, and then assessing the gait using computer software. The force exerted when the foot hits the ground was measured using force plates under the floor.
Discussing the findings, Nick Barton, a physiotherapist in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board says: “Many people including runners experience problems with their knees. We showed that compressive forces behind the kneecap were reduced in the majority of cases and this was independent of running speed.
“It is therefore possible that running backwards, as part of a specific rehabilitation program prescribed by a physiotherapist, may help in returning patients back to a good level of activity.”
People with runner’s knee experience soreness, discomfort, or even a grating sensation in their knee when there is increased pressure on the joint. This often stops them from exercising normally.
Paulien Roos, of the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre and School of Healthcare Studies adds: “Although backward running may not be a practical solution, this study provided important insights on how loading of the knee joint can be reduced in running.
“The participants in our study landed on their heels during forward running, but always landed on their forefoot when they ran backwards. The initial foot contact was important in defining the compressive forces in the knee and suggests there is an opportunity to investigate various running styles for therapeutic application.”
Commenting on the study, Arthritis Research UK’s medical director, Professor Alan Silman, says: “We fund research to help keep people active. This study provides us with a better idea of which running styles reduce forces on the knee to help prevent injuries such as runners’ knee.
“It’s important people use the proper technique to exercise safely but we do not recommend people start running backwards due to the potential trip hazards. If you are unsure about your running technique, a qualified sports coach, fitness instructor, or member of gym staff can give you advice.”
Source: Cardiff University