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In Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology

Running practice could generate musculoskeletal adaptations that modify the body mechanics and generate different biomechanical patterns for individuals with distinct levels of experience. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether foot-ankle kinetic and kinematic patterns can be used to discriminate different levels of experience in running practice of recreational runners using a machine learning approach. Seventy-eight long-distance runners (40.7 ± 7.0 years) were classified into less experienced (n = 24), moderately experienced (n = 23), or experienced (n = 31) runners using a fuzzy classification system, based on training frequency, volume, competitions and practice time. Three-dimensional kinematics of the foot-ankle and ground reaction forces (GRF) were acquired while the subjects ran on an instrumented treadmill at a self-selected speed (9.5-10.5 km/h). The foot-ankle kinematic and kinetic time series underwent a principal component analysis for data reduction, and combined with the discrete GRF variables to serve as inputs in a support vector machine (SVM), to determine if the groups could be distinguished between them in a one-vs.-all approach. The SVM models successfully classified all experience groups with significant crossvalidated accuracy rates and strong to very strong Matthew's correlation coefficients, based on features from the input data. Overall, foot mechanics was different according to running experience level. The main distinguishing kinematic factors for the less experienced group were a greater dorsiflexion of the first metatarsophalangeal joint and a larger plantarflexion angles between the calcaneus and metatarsals, whereas the experienced runners displayed the opposite pattern for the same joints. As for the moderately experienced runners, although they were successfully classified, they did not present a visually identifiable running pattern, and seem to be an intermediate group between the less and more experienced runners. The results of this study have the potential to assist the development of training programs targeting improvement in performance and rehabilitation protocols for preventing injuries.

Suda Eneida Yuri, Watari Ricky, Matias Alessandra Bento, Sacco Isabel C N


biomechanics, fuzzy logic, machine learning, running, running experience