This post was Guest Blogged by David J Pearsall PhD, an Associate Professor at the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education, McGill University (my alma mater)
Indoor running facilities have evolved with various configurations and sizes. Often tracks may incorporate banked curves in an attempt to compensate for body lean presumably to enhance running performance and / or reduce lower limb injuries.
More specifically, it is thought that a banked curve put less torque on the ankles and that it is easier to reach maximum speed without being injured (Greene 1987).
However, the validity of this rationale has not been vetted with scientific verification; indeed, some evidence suggested that, conversely, indoor track running may adversely alter running symmetry and increase risks of injury (Beukeboom et al. 2000).
Hence, the intent of this study was to investigate the mechanics of curved running with and without banked surfaces on an indoor track.
In summary, despite clear evidence of whole body lean, minimal gross differences in running mechanics were observed in the lower limb. Possibly, this may in part be explained by prior adaptations of the subjects due to their habitual running within the same indoor track.
Nonetheless, the question of how the body accommodates to the asymmetric bilateral foot support conditions during curved running still remains. Refinement in the test protocol is warranted e.g. measurement of fore-foot varus-valgus as opposed to rear-foot would better identify foot strike changes in orientation for mid-foot strikers.
Similarly, the ability to account for shear as opposed to perpendicular induced plantar pressures may be more relevant in locomotion involving changes in trajectory.
For the full article, click here for the The Effect of Banked Curves on Running Mechanics.
The article was originally presented by the Canadian Society of Biomechanics Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Aug 16-19 2006.
Authors include David J Pearsall, Jennifer Gow, Juan Murias, and Jonathan J. Loh from the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Sophie J. DeSerres and Luc DeGarie are from the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy,