Adolescent’s Biomechanics, Injury Risk and Gait Analysis

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by | Jan 12, 2022

Our sports podiatrist considers growth changes in adolescent biomechanics. Discover how 3D running gait analysis treats overuse teen running injuries.

Our sports podiatrist see a significant percentage of young folk at our podiatry clinic, so our team thought we’d share a few studies about adolescent biomechanics, growth disparities, gender differences, impact on risk of running injuries, and a running gait analysis solution to treat overuse injuries.

Adolescents are now engaging in more extracurricular activities than ever before with an estimated 40 percent participation in sports like running.  Along with increased sports participation also comes higher chances of getting injured – approximately one in three young runners will be exposed to an injury risk in running [1].

Sports podiatrist or a foot doctor in Singapore rarely consider the growth changes that are unique during adolescence, and oftentimes prescribe the same running injury treatment to both adults and younger athletes. However, recent research highlights significant differences not only between young male and female athletes but also differences in biomechanics as we age.

Despite the fact that the number of young male and female runners is about equal, the percentage of injuries in girls has been higher at 68 percent than compared with males at only 59 percent [2]. When it comes to the most prevalent conditions – ankle sprain, patellofemoral pain, Achilles tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, and tibial stress fractures – among young athletes, females were typically at higher risk of running injury [3].

To better understand why males fare better when it comes to avoiding getting injured, we have to delve a bit deeper into the biomechanics in adolescent years and differences in gender as we age.

Differences in Male and Female Running Gait Mechanics

During adolescence, there are major changes in physical characteristics as males and females mature that leads to differences in running mechanics. Girls’ pelvic and hip mechanics change significantly throughout puberty, whereas boys show no significant changes, or only minimal shifts, in pelvic movements when running [4].  

Another study used 3D gait analysis technology to examine kinematic joint angles to highlight the differences in the frontal plane of females’ running gait, such as greater movement of the leg away from the centre of the body and knee abduction movement at toe-off [5]. The increase in hip abduction, for example, can plausibly explain the higher incidence of iliotibial band injuries in girls.

In addition to changes in biomechanics as we age, specialising in a single sport, like running, places an immense amount of repetitive stress on joints that lead to a 70 percent chance more likelihood to get a serious overuse injuries in young runners [6].

The most frequent injuries among runners are overuse injuries from stress fractures of developing bone and soft tissues, such as tendinopathies. As we mature, tissues, bone, tendons, muscles, and cartilage develop at different times in the body making them more vulnerable to stresses which also leads to higher chances of getting injured.

 

custom insoles singapore foot doctor

 

Suffering a serious overuse injury from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, for example, when we are younger can curtail the long-term health outcomes as we age into heart-healthy adulthood. As a leading podiatry clinic in Singapore, The Foot Practice sports foot specialist work to find meaningful links in how the body moves in order to help runners improve their performance by training smarter to build strength and endurance, which also helps to decrease the risks of a teen running injury.

Podiatrist Treatment of Overuse Injury

As athletes at any age, we don’t ever want to have an injury that may niggle into a more complex condition in the future and take us away from the sport we love. By understanding not only gender differences but also shifts in body mechanics, and tissue and growth plates in children and teens, The Foot Practice’s sports podiatry team brings the most sophisticated running gait analysis for adolescent patients to spot subtle difference in body’s kinematic chain using cutting-edge infrared 3D technology developed by Oxford University.

This allows us to identify the nuances in biomechanical movements at any age to develop targeted gait retraining, foot care and injury rehabilitation programs tailored for the growing body. These treatment strategies include:

  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Footwear recommendations
  • Muscle imbalances and range improvements
  • Custom insoles in Singapore as an intervention

Find out more about The Foot Practice’s Sports Podiatry treatment and services.

 

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Sources

[1] Mitchell J. Rauh, Thomas D. Koepsell, Frederick P. Rivara, Anthony J. Margherita, Stephen G. Rice, Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Injuries among High School Cross-Country Runners, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 163, Issue 2, 15 January 2006, Pages 151–159, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwj022

[2] Adam S. Tenforde, Lauren C. Sayres, Mary L. McCurdy, Hervé Collado, Kristin L. Sainani, Michael Fredericson, Overuse Injuries in High School Runners: Lifetime Prevalence and Prevention Strategies, PM&R, Volume 3, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 125-131, ISSN 1934-1482, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmrj.2010.09.009.

[3] Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, McKenzie DC, Lloyd-Smith DR, Zumbo BD. A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2002 Apr;36(2):95-101. https://doi:10.1136/bjsm.36.2.95. PMID: 11916889; PMCID: PMC1724490.

[4] Jeffery A. Taylor-Haas, Jason T. Long, Micah C. Garcia, Mitchell J. Rauh, Mark V. Paterno, Richard A. Brindle, David M. Bazett-Jones, Kevin R. Ford, The influence of maturation and sex on pelvis and hip kinematics in youth distance runners, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2021, ISSN 1440-2440, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2021.09.193.

[5] Angkoon Phinyomark, Blayne A. Hettinga, Sean T. Osis, Reed Ferber, Gender and Age-Related Differences in Bilateral Lower Extremity Mechanics during Treadmill Running. PLOS ONE 9(12): e116643. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0116643

[6] Bell DR, Post EG, Trigsted SM, Hetzel S, McGuine TA, Brooks MA. Prevalence of Sport Specialization in High School Athletics: A 1-Year Observational Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;44(6):1469-1474. https://doi:10.1177/0363546516629943

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