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Treadmill analysis

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Robertisaacs, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    Treadmills. Beloved of gait analysts and people in sports shops who read a book once. Often used to facilitate assessment.

    But is walking/ running on a treadmill representative of walking in the real world?

    A quick search of japma shows divided opinion.

    K Lemke, MW Cornwall, TG McPoil, and D Schuit
    Comparison of rearfoot motion in overground versus treadmill walking
    J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1995 85: 243-248

    Suggests that

    B Van Gheluwe, J Smekens, and P Roosen
    Electrodynographic evaluation of the foot during treadmill versus overground locomotion
    J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 1994 84: 598-606

    suggest that

    Sandy S. Sajko and Michael R. Pierrynowski
    Influence of Treadmill Design on Rearfoot Pronation During Gait at Different Speeds
    J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 2005 95: 475-480.

    Show that there are significant differences between two designs of treadmill.

    My personal view is that a significant propulsive element is lost in treadmill walking as the body does not have to overcome inertia to acheive and maintain forward motion. I would also suggest that most people could run faster and longer on a treadmill than on the road.

    What say you?

  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Of course there are differences that any treadmill gait analysis have to acknowledge. However, most of what I look for on a treadmill are symmetries between sides, so those differences are not as great an issue.
  3. Jeremy Long

    Jeremy Long Active Member

    I am in agreement that there are limitations in adequately assessing gait mechanics on a treadmill. Personally, I'd love to have a chance to play with the digital walking path that is used in Western Carolina U's PT Dept. I've seen a couple of their analysis discs, and it is an amazingly effective tool.

    On another note, I generally recommend to patients to limit their time exercising on treadmills. In addition to the highly repetitive motions these devices encourage (good or bad), I find that they can exacerbate a variety of forefoot conditions due to the constant uphill grade.

    As for seeking symmetry, that can usually be addressed quickly and accurately through assessment of footwear sole wear patterns. Gait analysis often validates what already exists in those sole patterns.
  4. Once read somewhere that putting a 1 or 2% incline on the treadmill results in a better approximation to non-treadmill walking- don't know if this is based on fact.

    What you got to ask yourself is this: is it better to have my runner on a treadmill so I can get some good slow-mo or have 'em in my 20 foot corridor, accelerating and decelerating and avoiding the "obstacles" in their path- how "normal" is the gait they obtain here?- normal for that environment right? Same as treadmill running is normal for that environment.
  5. Stanley

    Stanley Well-Known Member

    Sorry I can't agree with you.
    If walking on a treadmill and measuring the speed relative to the treadmill mat, the speed would be the same as on the ground. If walking on a treadmill and measuring the speed relative to the earth, the velocity would be 0, and therefore slower than being on the ground.
    You just don't go very far on a treadmill per unit time.


  6. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  7. efuller

    efuller MVP

    If you don't propulse on the treadmill you fall off of the back end. You have to move relative to the belt of the treadmill. Now, if the treadmill belt doesn't move with close to constant velocity, then it will be different than overground running/ walking.

    One good analogy that I read once is there a difference in walking on an airplane in the direction of travel versus opposite direction of travel. Even though the airplane is moving relative to the earth, in terms of walking you only have to look at the relative velocity of the person to the airplane. You only have to look at the velocity of the person to the treadmill.


  8. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member


    Like Eric said there is inertia to over come. But inertia is formally a ficticious force and is relative to the reference frame. IE there is no inertial force in the reference frame of the ground since there is no relative acceleration but there is acceleration relative to the treadmill.


    Cheers Dave
  9. Rohan

    Rohan Welcome New Poster

    I believe the 1% gradient is supposed to increase energy expenditure to mimick wind resistance. At least that is what we were taught during my exercise science degree. I'd say it's more relevant for physiological exercise testing, rather than biomechanical.
  10. Griff

    Griff Moderator


    I would expect a 1% gradient to slightly increase the dorsiflexion moment at the ankle (TC) joint, and possibly result in increased tensile loading forces within the Tendo-achilles/triceps surae complex. This may then have obvious biomechanical implications?
  11. Jonathan

    Jonathan Active Member

    I would suggest that you control the controllable - make sure your treadmill is seated square to the planet and perpendicular to the camera, make sure that camera and it’s view is in line with the centre of the treadmill.

    I find that one of the key determinates in replicating normal gait behaviour is finding the clients natural cadence. It’s normally when the client looks up and relaxes into the run/walk. If you stand close to the treadmill and talk with your client - find out if they are happy with the speed etc, they are more likely to relax. Once they are comfortable with the environment I find you are more likely to see a replication of the foots natural signature.
  12. Rohan

    Rohan Welcome New Poster

    I have no doubt that the incline could have biomechanical implications. We only ever used the 1% gradient for maximal tests (VO2Max) with elite athletes. I never went down the exercise physiology career path, so my only experience is under protocols provided by lecturers.

    More on the subject here:
  13. Last edited: Jul 1, 2008
  14. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Effect of speed on kinematic, kinetic, electromyographic and energetic reference values during treadmill walking.
    Stoquart G, Detrembleur C, Lejeune T.
    Neurophysiol Clin. 2008 Apr;38(2):105-16.

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