The effects of speed, duration and gender on the relative three-dimensional angular kinematics of the lumbar spine and pelvis during running

Carly Scott, Philip E. Riches

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INTRODUCTION and AIM Knowledge of lumbo-pelvic motion during running could help in the treatment and prevention of injury to the lumbar spine. Three dimensional angular kinematic patterns of lumbo-pelvic motion at speeds greater than 4m/s have received little attention. Research into the effect of running duration on these patterns is also scarce, and gender has not been taken into account over a wide range of speeds or in relation to time. Therefore the aim was to determine how the lumbar spinal range of motion and the three dimensional angular kinematic patterns that occur during walking and running, differ with running speed and duration, whilst taking gender into account. PATIENTS/MATERIALS and METHODS Three-dimensional angular kinematics of the lumbar spine in relation to the pelvis were recorded in nine male and nine female recreational athletes within the age bracket of 18-35 years. Markers were attached in accordance with [1]. Gait cycle parameters were calculated using markers placed on the lateral malleolus and the distal end of the second metatarsal of both ankles/toes with an additional marker on each heel. Pelvic markers were attached to both anterior superior iliac spines (ASIS) and both posterior superior iliac spines (PSIS). A rigid cluster of three markers was centred over the 12th thoracic spinous process (T12) to determine spinal orientation. A VICON 612 motion analysis system recorded marker coordinate data at 100Hz for treadmill walking speeds of 0.89 and 1.79m/s, and running speeds of 1.79, 2.68, 3.58 and 4.47m/s with no incline. Each recording epoch was 10 seconds. To assess the effect of running duration 10 seconds of data was collected every 5 minutes for 30 minutes at a velocity of 2.68m/s. Range of motion (peak to peak) and time histories (time-normalised to the gait cycle) for lumbar flexion, lateral flexion and axial rotation were ascertained and analysed with respect to the experimental factors. RESULTS The effect of speed on range of motion was highly significant for lumbar flexion, lateral flexion and axial rotation, with all angulations increasing with speed (all p<0.001). However, only axial rotation range of motion increased significantly with running duration (p<0.001). A gender difference in the trend for lateral flexion with respect to speed was detected (p<0.05) but no strong interaction with duration was evident. Females displayed higher overall ranges of motion throughout. Whilst kinematic patterns differed in amplitude, little variance in timing across speed, duration or gender was observed, with the exception of lumbar flexion between genders. DISCUSSION and CONCLUSIONS As expected [2], spinal motion increased with speed. Whilst this motion is not enough, per se, to induce acute spinal injury, a temporal co-ordination of peak angulation with peak loading may be chronically deleterious to intervertebral disc biomechanics. As tiredness sets in, this study suggests that the body compensates by increasing axial rotation of the spine, probably in an attempt to utilise upper body angular momentum to augment lower body propulsive ground reaction forces and/or swing phase kinematics. This study has also evidenced a gender difference in spinal motion, as found before [3] which may be attributed to height and limb length differences. Nonetheless, differences in lumbo-pelvic motion observed between genders are consistent enough to merit careful consideration of subjects in related future investigations, especially with regard to speed. Complementary studies are suggested to investigate the relative angular kinematics of the lumbar spine and pelvis at running speeds faster than 4.5m/s; for durations longer than 30 minutes; and in LBP populations. REFERENCES [1] Schache, A. G., Blanch, P., Rath, D., Wrigley, T., & Bennell, K. (2002). Three-dimensional angular kinematics of the lumbar spine and pelvis during running. Human Movement Science, 21, 273-293. [2] Saunders, S. W., Schache, A., Rath, D., & Hodges, P. W. (2005). Changes in the three dimensional lumbo-pelvic kinematics and trunk muscle activity with speed and mode of locomotion. Journal of Clinical Biomechanics, 20, 784-793. [3] Schache, A. G., Blanch, P., Rath, D., Wrigley, T., & Bennell, K. (2003). Differences between the sexes in the three-dimensional angular rotations of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during treadmill running. Journal of Sports Sciences, 21, 105-118.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S101
Number of pages1
JournalGait and Posture
Issue numberSuppl 1
Early online date21 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Event22nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Movement Analysis in Adults and Children - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20137 Sep 2013


  • lumbo-pelvic motion
  • running
  • lumbar spine motion

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