Current Projects

A Complex systems approach to assessing Injury REsilience in Collegiate Cross-Country runners

The incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in collegiate cross-country athletes is extremely high. Many of the injuries experienced are severe (i.e., stress fracture) and result in time-loss for training and competition. To date, risk factors have predominantly been examined while holding all other variables constant rather than appreciating that risk factors likely interact, evolve over time, and hold different weights depending on the person and context. This goal of this study is to assess injury susceptibility and resilience from a dynamical systems perspective. In partnership with Biosocial Methods Collaborative, we will develop a statistical methodology for injury surveillance using a multi-level systems thinking approach.

Acute and Chronic Workloads in Distance Runners

Internal and external workloads have been calculated for players in sports like rugby and cricket to assess injury likelihood but have yet to be applied to distance running. We are in the process of tracking recreational runners training for a distance race (e.g., half- full- ultra-) to determine if these metrics are valuable for assessing heightened injury risk during a race training program.

adaptive response to enforced step frequency perturbation during running

There is limited information about adaptive response to external gait perturbations in the running literature. Adaptation and de-adaptation represent two important functional abilities needed for efficient movement, optimal performance, and injury prevention. Quick response to unpredictable task demands is necessary to avoid traumatic injuries, while efficient return to preferred state is necessary to avoid cumulative stress.  Preferred movement patterns are often associated with minimal energy expenditure and reduced joint loading. Longer time needed to return to preferred movement pattern over multiple exposures during a race or run lead to accumulated time out of preferred state. This accumulation may negatively impact metabolic cost and increase cumulative joint loads, which hamper performance and raises the likelihood of injury. The current study aims to understand biomechanical and individual-specific factors that influence functional adaptability and the consequence of poor adaptive response.

intra-individual variability patterns for injury prediction during running

Novice runners have a high risk of running-related injury. Likewise, runners that change footwear or running technique may experience injury during their transition. With no consistent risk factors currently identified to predict injury, what may be more important is to understand the individual-specific characteristics that enable one runner to adapt successfully while another gets seriously injured. This project involves examining intra-individual variability patterns, which represent underlying gait strategies, in order to explain injury and performance blockers with respect to running.


Wearable sensor technology allows for monitoring movement in an individual’s native environment. These sensors are becoming increasingly widespread and low-cost; they already exist in many devices used daily by millions of individuals, such as cell phones and body-worn activity monitors. We are leveraging this exceptional technology to modernize health monitoring in the elderly and other patient populations and to provide on-field performance assessment for elite athletes. Our work in health monitoring includes developing algorithms to monitor elderly individuals and alert caregivers of a fall or other medical need. In sport, we are seeking to characterize underlying biomechanical indices that drive an athlete’s overarching performance strategy on the field. We additionally are identifying movement characteristics that govern performance degradation over time, such as what occurs in the presence of neuromuscular fatigue. This knowledge will in turn be used to develop powerful on-field tools for performance evaluation, training enhancements, injury screening, and return-to-play assessment for a variety of athletes and sport disciplines.

pregnant & postpartum running mechanics and habits

Current medical guidelines for returning to physical activity postpartum provide little to no information on a progression for returning to running. Little is known about female runners returning to running following pregnancy, particularly in terms of running biomechanics, running habits, and overall well-being. A critical gap in developing “return to play” guidelines for postpartum runners is a lack of information about the extent to which differences in running-related characteristics that develop during pregnancy fail to restore to pre-pregnancy levels postpartum. This project seeks to track changes in gait biomechanics, foot and body morphology, general health, and physical activity habits of habitual runners through and after pregnancy.

Step Frequency Patterns in Elite Ultramarathon Runners During a 100km Road Race

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Step frequency data was collected from 20 ultramarathoners during the entirety of the 2016 IAU 100 kilometer World Championship. The step frequencies and variances were analyzed throughout the race and across the variety of running speeds to explore how fatigue and pace affect a highly trained runners' step frequency.  Future work will use Detrended Fluctuation Analysis to explore any patterns in the individual variations throughout the race.

The Biomechanics of the Sub-Four Minute Mile

Elite middle distance runners may serve as a unique population of runner that have undergone a substantial degree of 'self-optimization' to achieve high level running performance through a combination of both long distance and short explosive training.  We are analyzing the mechanics and physiology of male runners who have run under four minutes for the mile and female runners who have run under 4:36 (IAAF equivalent).  We are examining the runners across a variety of training and racing paces to identify patterns common amongst them as well as their unique individual traits as a means of characterizing high-functioning systems. 

Spring-Loaded Inverted Pendulum as a Template to Explore Biomechanical Parameters in Running

We are developing a SLIP model to explore how modifications in various system-level biomechanical parameters in a simple running system affect the energetic and mechanical trade-offs of the other parameters.  This model will also be used as a template against which to compare the characteristics of runners at various levels of performance and health.