GPS Watches Valuable in Identifying and Correcting Running Dynamics

Device is like having a running lab on your wrist 

GPS Watches Valuable in Identifying and Correcting Running Dynamics A recent ATI Physical Therapy study found that GPS running watches can provide just as valid and reliable of information to the runner as would an expensive laboratory motion capture system in helping to identify and correct running form and technique. The study, presented at the American Physical Therapy Associations’ Combined Sections Meeting on <DATE> in Anaheim, CA and accepted in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, was lead by ATI’s Doug Adams, PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, CSCS.

The study looked at three components in a runner’s gate: cadence, vertical oscillation (VO) and ground contact time (GTC) of the runner’s foot. When compared to the gold standard of a motion capture system, the study found that the fitness watch provided a statistically valid and reliable clinical alternative to a laboratory set-up. Furthermore, when participants were asked to alter their running pattern, the watch was able to detect changes in cadence, VO, and GCT that were similar to the ones detected by the motion capture system.

“The validation of these watches opens the door for a cost-effective way for runners and physical therapists to improve running techniques, helping to avoid immediate injuries and correct issues that could prove to have long-term negative effects to runners,” said Adams. “These watches also allow coaches and physical therapists to provide individualized feedback on running form and dynamics outside a laboratory setting where the majority of running takes place.”

With the popularity of running worldwide comes a high number of musculoskeletal injuries. In many cases, the modification of a runner’s gate has been considered an effective way to manage and minimize these types of injuries. Studies have shown that modifying cadence and VO can positively affect the impact running has on many of the joints in the legs, but before now required expensive laboratory analysis in a controlled (treadmill) environment.

“This study and its results allows us to take the lab outside, adapting a scientific approach in a real world environment and providing real-time feedback that allows modification to the runner’s gate to be made on the spot,” continued Adams.

About the study
The study looked at 20 active runners between the ages of 20-55 and had to have run at least 60 minutes per week. Participants wore the Fenix 2 Garmin watch which was compared to the Vicon eight camera motion capture system and a force plate treadmill. The study was approved by the University of Delaware Institutional Review Board. For complete study results please contact Doug.Adams@atipt.com.

By Julie Gardner for ATI Physical Therapy