Gait Retraining for the Reduction of Injury Occurrence in Novice Distance Runners: 1-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Zoe Y.S. Chan, Janet H. Zhang, Ivan P.H. Au, Winko W. An, Gary L.K. Shum, Gabriel Y.F. Ng, Tsz Hei Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The increasing popularity of distance running has been accompanied by an increase in running-related injuries, such that up to 85% of novice runners incur an injury in a given year. Previous studies have used a gait retraining program to successfully lower impact loading, which has been associated with many running ailments. However, softer footfalls may not necessarily prevent running injury. Purpose: To examine vertical loading rates before and after a gait retraining program and assess the effectiveness of the program in reducing the occurrence of running-related injury across a 12-month observation period. Study Design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1. Methods: A total of 320 novice runners from the local running club completed this study. All the participants underwent a baseline running biomechanics evaluation on an instrumented treadmill with their usual running shoes at 8 and 12 km/h. Participants were then randomly assigned to either the gait retraining group or the control group. In the gait retraining group (n = 166), participants received 2 weeks of gait retraining with real-time visual feedback. In the control group (n = 154), participants received treadmill running exercise but without visual feedback on their performance. The training time was identical between the 2 groups. Participants’ running mechanics were reassessed after the training, and their 12-month posttraining injury profiles were tracked by use of an online surveillance platform. Results: A significant reduction was found in the vertical loading rates at both testing speeds in the gait retraining group (P <.001, Cohen’s d > 0.99), whereas the loading rates were either similar or slightly increased in the control group after training (P =.001 to 0.461, Cohen’s d = 0.03 to −0.14). At 12-month follow-up, the occurrence of running-related musculoskeletal injury was 16% and 38% in the gait retraining and control groups, respectively. The hazard ratio between gait retraining and control groups was 0.38 (95% CI, 0.25-0.59), indicating a 62% lower injury risk in gait-retrained runners compared with controls. Conclusion: A 2-week gait retraining program is effective in lowering impact loading in novice runners. More important, the occurrence of injury is 62% lower after 2 weeks of running gait modification. Registration: HKUCTR-1996 (University of Hong Kong Clinical Trials Registry).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-395
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • biofeedback
  • injury prevention
  • kinetics
  • running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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