Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Sheryl Finucane

Second Advisor

Benjamin Darter

Third Advisor

Adam Sima

Fourth Advisor

Mary Shall

Fifth Advisor

Blaise Williams

Sixth Advisor

Ron Zernicke


Running is known to provide important health benefits. However, the incidence of injury among runners is high, particularly among novice runners, which discourages long term participation in the sport. The knee is the most commonly injured joint in novice runners. In general, aberrant frontal and transverse plane kinematics are associated with the development of knee injuries in runners. It was unknown whether the high rate of knee injury in novice runners was due to abnormal kinematics. Further, it was unclear whether these risk factors for injury could be improved. This dissertation includes four studies investigating kinematics in novice runners, how they change with training and evaluation of a running assessment. The first study compared frontal and transverse plane kinematics of female novice and experienced runners. Novice runners displayed more knee kinematics associated with injury than experienced runners, which may contribute to their higher risk of injury. The second study investigated the effects of two different training programs on kinematics of novice runners: one program consisted of 8 weeks of walking followed by 8 weeks of running, the other consisted of 8 weeks of strength/plyometric training followed by 8 weeks of running. Results demonstrated that training produced small changes in kinematics, however all types of training produced a mix of beneficial and detrimental effects. Participants who completed the study displayed better knee kinematics 8 than those who dropped out, which may have influenced their ability to complete the program. The third study sought to investigate changes in coordination of the hip and ankle joints, and their contributions to knee joint angles thought to contribute to injury. Results demonstrated that both the hip and the ankle may influence changes in knee kinematics, however the relative motion of the hip and the ankle appears to remain stable with training. In the final study, we investigated the reliability and validity of the Running Readiness Scale (RRS), as a low cost assessment of kinematics related to injury in runners. The RRS demonstrated good inter and intra rater reliability. Further, the RRS appeared to effectively discriminate between runners according to knee abduction, but not knee internal rotation.


© Kathryn Harrison

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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


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