Wearables for Running Gait Analysis: A Systematic Review

Samuel Stuart*, Rachel Mason, Liam Pearson, Gill Barry, Fraser Young, Oisin Lennon, Alan Godfrey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background

Running gait assessment has traditionally been performed using subjective observation or expensive laboratory-based objective technologies, such as three-dimensional motion capture or force plates. However, recent developments in wearable devices allow for continuous monitoring and analysis of running mechanics in any environment. Objective measurement of running gait is an important (clinical) tool for injury assessment and provides measures that can be used to enhance performance.

Objectives

We aimed to systematically review the available literature investigating how wearable technology is being used for running gait analysis in adults.

Methods

A systematic search of the literature was conducted in the following scientific databases: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and SPORTDiscus. Information was extracted from each included article regarding the type of study, participants, protocol, wearable device(s), main outcomes/measures, analysis and key findings.

Results

A total of 131 articles were reviewed: 56 investigated the validity of wearable technology, 22 examined the reliability and 77 focused on applied use. Most studies used inertial measurement units (n = 62) [i.e. a combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers in a single unit] or solely accelerometers (n = 40), with one using gyroscopes alone and 31 using pressure sensors. On average, studies used one wearable device to examine running gait. Wearable locations were distributed among the shank, shoe and waist. The mean number of participants was 26 (± 27), with an average age of 28.3 (± 7.0) years. Most studies took place indoors (n = 93), using a treadmill (n = 62), with the main aims seeking to identify running gait outcomes or investigate the effects of injury, fatigue, intrinsic factors (e.g. age, sex, morphology) or footwear on running gait outcomes. Generally, wearables were found to be valid and reliable tools for assessing running gait compared to reference standards.

Conclusions

This comprehensive review highlighted that most studies that have examined running gait using wearable sensors have done so with young adult recreational runners, using one inertial measurement unit sensor, with participants running on a treadmill and reporting outcomes of ground contact time, stride length, stride frequency and tibial acceleration. Future studies are required to obtain consensus regarding terminology, protocols for testing validity and the reliability of devices and suitability of gait outcomes.

Clinical Trial Registration

CRD42021235527.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-268
Number of pages28
JournalSports Medicine
Volume53
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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