Symmetry of in-shoe force signatures in athletes under field conditions : an application for injury prevention

Ingram, Christopher John (2011) Symmetry of in-shoe force signatures in athletes under field conditions : an application for injury prevention. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The aetiology behind overuse injuries such as stress fractures is complex and multi-factorial. In sporting events where the loading is likely to be uneven (e.g. hurdling and jumps), research has suggested that the frequency of stress fractures seems to favour the athlete’s dominant limb. The tendency for an individual to have a preferred limb for voluntary motor acts makes limb selection a possible factor behind the development of unilateral overuse injuries, particularly when repeatedly used during high loading activities.

The event of sprint hurdling is well suited for the study of loading asymmetry as the hurdling technique is repetitive and the limb movement asymmetrical. Of relevance to this study is the high incidence of Navicular Stress Fractures (NSF) in hurdlers, with suggestions there is a tendency for the fracture to develop in the trail leg foot, although this is not fully accepted. The Ground Reaction Force (GRF) with each foot contact is influenced by the hurdle action, with research finding step-to-step loading variations. However, it is unknown if this loading asymmetry extends to individual forefoot joints, thereby influencing stress fracture development.

The first part of the study involved a series of investigations using a commercially available matrix style in-shoe sensor system (FscanTM, Tekscan Inc.). The suitability of insole sensor systems and custom made discrete sensors for use in hurdling-related training activities was assessed. The methodology used to analyse foot loading with each technology was investigated.

The insole and discrete sensors systems tested proved to be unsuitable for use during full pace hurdling. Instead, a running barrier task designed to replicate the four repetitive foot contacts present during hurdling was assessed. This involved the clearance of a series of 6 barriers (low training hurdles), place in a straight line, using 4 strides between each. The second part of the study involved the analysis of "inter-limb" and "within foot loading asymmetries" using stance duration as well as vertical GRF under the Hallux (T1), the first metatarsal head (M1) and the central forefoot peak pressure site (M2), during walking, running, and running with barrier clearances. The contribution to loading asymmetry that each of the four repetitive foot contacts made during a series of barrier clearances was also assessed.

Inter-limb asymmetry, in forefoot loading, occurred at discrete forefoot sites in a non-uniform manner across the three gait conditions. When the individual barrier foot contacts were compared, the stance duration was asymmetrical and the proportion of total forefoot load at M2 was asymmetrical. There were no significant differences between the proportion of forefoot load at M1, compared to M2; for any of the steps involved in the barrier clearance. A case study testing experimental (discrete) sensors during full pace sprinting and hurdling found that during both gait conditions, the trail limb experienced the greater vertical GRF at M1 and M2. During full pace hurdling, increased stance duration and vertical loading was a characteristic of the trail limb hurdle foot contacts. Commercially available in-shoe systems are not suitable for on field assessment of full pace hurdling. For the use of discrete sensor technology to become commonplace in the field, more robust sensors need to be developed.

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ID Code: 52764
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Reed, Lloyd & Urry, Stephen
Keywords: asymmetry, ground reaction forces, barrier clearance, within foot loading
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Jul 2012 05:35
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2012 05:35

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