Study shows hip and knee alignment is key AIHS researcher offers a new strategy for injured runners
(Calgary, Alberta) Reed Ferber is all about how people move. So much so that he's built the world's largest database of 3D gait analysis, and a series of Canadian clinics focused on one thing: how to prevent and fix running injuries. "Three to four million Canadians suffer knee-related injuries because of running each year," says Ferber, PhD, an Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions Investigator in the Faculties of Kinesiology and Nursing at the University of Calgary. "Our number one goal is to prevent injuries. And, of course, we also treat hundreds of injured runners who need our help and advice to heal up and get back out there."
Ferber's team has just published a study in the March/April edition of the Journal of Athletic Training, measuring whether runners with knee pain benefit from an intensive hip-strengthening program. "We gave injured runners a series of exercises to strengthen their hip muscles, and within three weeks we found those runners had less pain, less stride-to-stride variability in their movement, and more strength to help them run safely," says Ferber, Director, Running Injury Clinic, UCalgary
"Around week two or three of starting the hip exercises, my knee pain went away," says Emily Morin, a 21 year old study participant who is a student at UCalgary. Morin's knee pain began when she took up rugby at 14 years old, and became so pervasive that she was suffering knee pain while just sitting in her classes at school. "I tried physiotherapy, acupuncture, and a chiropractor. I tried everything and it wasn't going away. I started to worry that as I got older, I wouldn't be able to walk," she says.
The 25 runners taking part in the study visited the Running Injury Clinic to do a treadmill test with Ferber's team as well as a series of measurements to assess their strength and flexibility. The clinic's 3D motion capture system is designed so that the research team can analyse the runners' gait, and the relationship between their knee, hip and ankle joints.
"The fact is, every runner is on the verge of becoming injured. But if you are a runner whose knees and hips vary considerably with each step you take, you are much more prone to injure your knees," says Ferber. "This study is great news for runners who suffer with chronic knee pain - we've shown that strengthening those critical hip muscles helps runners restore a more consistent, predictable pattern of movement, reduce knee pain, and stay on the roster for that next race."
Ferber, who has a PhD in sport medicine and gait biomechanics, opened the UCalgary Running Injury Clinic in 2004. Since then, he has built clinical partnerships with researchers to open similar clinics in Vancouver, Nelson, and Victoria, B.C. as well as Lethbridge, Banff, and Edmonton in Alberta. "When I am assessing the gait of runners in Calgary, their hip and knee movements go into our database, and we compare that information with hundreds of other cases from the other six Canadian clinics," says Ferber. "That allows us to do much more robust research, and give each runner more precise advice about his/her treatment program."
Ferber's research is funded by Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
For more information about Reed Ferber's research program: www.runninginjuryclinic.com
Media contact: Karen Thomas, Media Specialist, Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, 1.877.423.5727 x225, 403.651.1112 (cell), email@example.com
Did you know?
- Studies show that 35% of Canadians are involved in running, or running-related sports (Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute)
- 80% of running injuries occur from the knee down (British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2002)
- 50% of running injuries are to the knee (British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2002)
- Treating a running injury costs about $1000 annually, with the Canadian healthcare system paying for $500 for physiotherapy (Canadian Physiotherapy Association)