Tibial acceleration is frequently measured in runners, and recent advances in wireless technology have led to field studies measuring tibial acceleration outside the laboratory. However, it is unknown whether laboratory and field measures of tibial acceleration differ within runners. In addition, the relationship between peak axial acceleration and the more recent measure peak resultant tibial acceleration has not been determined.
This study aimed to determine whether laboratory and field measures of tibial acceleration are comparable, and whether peak axial and peak resultant tibial acceleration are interchangeable.
Nineteen healthy rearfoot striking runners between 18 and 45 yr of age participated. A precision accelerometer was aligned with the vertical axis of the distal tibia and firmly attached. Data were collected in the following conditions during running at 3.0 m·s−1 ± 5%: traditional overground laboratory gait analysis contacting force plates, treadmill, outdoor grass, and outdoor sidewalk. Acceleration data were filtered and normalized to gravity. Peaks for variables of interest were extracted from the first 40% of stride for 10 trials per condition. Differences among conditions were determined.
Peak positive acceleration was lower in laboratory and treadmill compared with grass and sidewalk conditions. However, laboratory and treadmill were similar in magnitude, as were grass and sidewalk. Peak resultant acceleration was consistently higher than peak axial acceleration, with the same pattern among conditions. Laboratory acceleration measures explained at best only half of the variance in the field conditions and did not explain the variance for grass.
Tibial impact acceleration magnitude is influenced by testing procedures in runners. These findings support measuring tibial impact acceleration in the field to determine new metrics associated with injury.