Effects of Overweight and Obesity on Running Mechanics in Children

Bradley J Bowser; Kristen Roles


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021;53(10):2101-2110. 

In This Article


This is the first known study where a running gait analysis, that includes both kinematic and kinetic data, has been conducted comparing children classified as OW/OB and HW. Several differences in running mechanics are present between OW/OB and HW children. Among the most notable are the higher ground reaction forces and unscaled joint moments, which may result in greater joint loading, malalignments, and potential joint pathologies. Encouraging participation in physical activity is crucial in reducing childhood obesity rates. Equally as important is prescribing appropriate exercise that do not place a child at an increased risk for developing other types of injuries or pathologies associated with excessive loading or malalignments. Progression from low- to high-impact activities may give the bone and muscle time to adjust to the increasing loads, potentially reducing and ideally eliminating the OW/OB children's increased risk of pain and injury. Creating a positive association with physical activity is important at a young age. By reducing a child's risk of pain and/or injury during physical activity, we may be able to increase the likelihood that they will enjoy and be willing to engage in physical activity throughout their life.