Difference in the running biomechanics between preschoolers and adults

Rachel X.Y. Wei, Zoe Y.S. Chan, Janet H.W. Zhang, Gary L. Shum, Chao Ying Chen*, Roy T.H. Cheung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: High vertical loading rate is associated with a variety of running-related musculoskeletal injuries. There is evidence supporting that non-rearfoot footstrike pattern, greater cadence, and shorter stride length may reduce the vertical loading rate. These features appear to be common among preschoolers, who seem to experience lower running injury incidence, leading to a debate whether adults should accordingly modify their running form. Objective: This study sought to compare the running biomechanics between preschoolers and adults. Methods: Ten preschoolers (4.2 ± 1.6 years) and ten adults (35.1 ± 9.5 years) were recruited and ran overground with their usual shoes at a self-selected speed. Vertical average (VALR) and vertical instantaneous loading rate (VILR) were calculated based on the kinetic data. Footstrike pattern and spatiotemporal parameters were collected using a motion capture system. Results: There was no difference in normalized VALR (p = 0.48), VILR (p = 0.48), running speed (p = 0.85), and footstrike pattern (p = 0.29) between the two groups. Preschoolers demonstrated greater cadence (p < 0.001) and shorter normalized stride length (p = 0.01). Conclusion: By comparing the kinetic and kinematic parameters between children and adults, our findings do not support the notion that adults should modify their running biomechanics according to the running characteristics in preschoolers for a lower injury risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-167
Number of pages6
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 01 03 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Associação Brasileira de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação em Fisioterapia


  • Cadence
  • Children
  • Footstrike pattern
  • Spatiotemporal parameters
  • Vertical loading rate


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