John Melville, our Biology Staff Scientist, has found that our Goniometer is a great sensor for investigating running. As shown in the sample data below, students can use a LabQuest and the Goniometer to record joint angle data from the knee while running. The running waveform contains both a large and a small peak. Full flexion of the knee occurs at the large peak. The small peak coincides with the landing of the foot.

Joint angle data from the knee while running

With this in mind, we have developed an experiment, “Analysis of Barefoot Running.” In this experiment, students use the Goniometer to investigate the biomechanics of barefoot running, a new running trend popularized by Christopher McDougall in the book Born to Run. Traditional running technique emphasizes a heel-to-toe foot strike during each stride. Without the padding provided by traditional running shoes, barefoot running tends to minimize heel strike. This leads to an increase in stride rate, or cadence, of the barefoot runner. As shown in the data below, barefoot running leads to an increase in John’s stride rate when he runs barefoot.

Comparison of stride rate when wearing shoes or running barefoot

Download “Analysis of Barefoot Running” experiment