1. In this cross-sectional study, overweight/obese children displayed higher ground reaction forces while running compared to children of healthy weight.
2. Overweight/obese children displayed higher hip, knee, and ankle joint moments while running compared to children of healthy weight.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
The medical literature has demonstrated that excess body weight can distort movement patterns and lead to excessive joint stress. This may be especially problematic in children with excess body weight, as it puts them at a higher risk for injury and joint malalignments. As running is a popular form of weight loss, the present study sought to examine differences in various running mechanics such as joint moments and ground reaction forces in overweight/obese (OW/OB) children compared to healthy weight (HW) children.
This cross-sectional study recruited 42 self-selected children from the local community (17 OW/OB, 25 HW) between 8-12 yrs. Children were included if they were healthy and free of injury within the previous 3 months. Participants were placed in the OW/OB group if their BMI was ≥85th percentile. Children underwent a single 2hr testing session of their running mechanics at a biomechanics laboratory. Multiple limb measurements were taken in the laboratory and 27 anatomical markers were identified using a modified Helen Hayes market set.
Following the 2hr testing session, results showed that the OW/OB group displayed greater peak vertical force, vertical impact peaks and vertical loading rates compared to HW. The OW/OB group also displayed greater hip, knee, and ankle joint moments compared to HW. The results of this study should be taken into consideration given its limitations. Of note, a universal running speed was used across all participants which may artificially distort the mechanics of OW/OB children compared to HW. However, the study’s use of multiple anatomical landmarks and standardized footwear aided in providing a strong collection of variables used to study gait mechanics. Altogether, this study was significant in suggesting running may increase the risk of injury amongst overweight children, warranting further studies.
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