Overground vs Treadmill Running: What the Difference?

BPFA, Run (1)Research Paper Title

Comparison of Lower Extremity Kinematic Curves During Overground and Treadmill Running.


Researchers conducted gait analyses utilising both overground and treadmill modes of running. Previous studies comparing these modes analysed discrete variables.


Recently, techniques involving quantitative pattern analysis have assessed kinematic curve similarity in gait. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare hip, knee and rearfoot 3-D kinematics between overground and treadmill running using quantitative kinematic curve analysis. Twenty runners ran at 3.35 m/s ± 5% during treadmill and overground conditions while right lower extremity kinematics were recorded. Kinematics of the hip, knee and rearfoot at footstrike and peak were compared using intraclass correlation coefficients. Kinematic curves during stance phase were compared using the trend symmetry method within each subject.


The overall average trend symmetry was high, 0.94 (1.0 is perfect symmetry) between running modes. The transverse plane and knee frontal plane exhibited lower similarity (0.86–0.90). Other than a 4.5 degree reduction in rearfoot dorsiflexion at footstrike during treadmill running, all differences were ≤1.5 degrees. 17/18 discrete variables exhibited modest correlations (>0.6) and 8/18 exhibited strong correlations (>0.8).


In conclusion, overground and treadmill running kinematic curves were generally similar when averaged across subjects. Although some subjects exhibited differences in transverse plane curves, overall, treadmill running was representative of overground running for most subjects.


Fellin, R.E., Manal, K. & Davis, I.S. (2010) Comparison of Lower Extremity Kinematic Curves During Overground and Treadmill Running. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 26(4), pp.407-414.


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