The effect of #trunk flexion angle on lower limb mechanics during #running

High trunk flexion during running impacts lower limb kinetics and kinematics.

•Ground reaction forces increased significantly with greater trunk flexion.

•Stride parameters and joint moments were affected by degree of trunk flexion.

•Trunk position should be investigated as a contributing factor to running injury.

Trunk flexion is an understudied biomechanical variable that potentially influences running performance and susceptibility to injury. We present and test a theoretical model relating trunk flexion angle to stride parameters, joint moments and ground reaction forces that have been implicated in repetitive stress injuries. Twenty-three participants (12 male, 11 female) ran at preferred trunk flexion and three more flexed trunk positions (moderate, intermediate and high) on a custom built Bertec™ instrumented treadmill while kinematic and kinetic data were simultaneously captured.

Markers adhered to bony landmarks tracked the movement of the trunk and lower limb. Stride parameters, moments of force and ground reaction force were calculated using Visual 3D (C-Motion ©) software. From preferred to high trunk flexion, stride length decreased 6% (P < 0.001) and stride frequency increased 7% (P < 0.001). Extensor moments at the hip increased 70% (P < 0.001), but knee extensor (P < 0.001) and ankle plantarflexor moments (P < 0.001) decreased 22% and 14%, respectively. Greater trunk flexion increased rate of loading by 29% (P < 0.01) and vertical ground reaction force impact transients by 20% (P < 0.01).

Trunk flexion angle during running has significant effects on stride kinematics, lower extremity joint moments and ground reaction force and should be further investigated in relation to running performance and repetitive stress injuries.