Physiological, kinematic and psychophysical differences between overground and treadmill running

S. Olivier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In order to simulate overground walking and running,
the motordriven treadmill is only used in physiological,
kinematic and psychophysical studies of human emotion.
Primarily because of the convenience and control
that it offers, the treadmill has played an important role
in the development of sports science. and allied disciplines. However, the results of studies utilising the treadmill can only be extrapolated to overground situations if there are no demonstrable, significant differences between the two modes of locomotion. This paper serves to examine the literature in order to clarify the issues involved for researchers. The review indicates that while the treadmill is a convenient tool to assess responses to physical work, some caution should be applied when extrapolating certain kinds of data obtained under certain kinds of conditions. These might include kinematic variables at speeds in excess of 5 m.s1, using a treadmill for shoe or orthotic assessment, and for obtaining psychophysical measures, which depend to some degree on cognitive appraisal. When workloads are matched, it seems that measures of oxygen consumption are equivalent for the two conditions. Finally, researchers need to consider the issue of sufficient habituation to treadmill locomotion, as this may reduce possible differences when comparing the two modes of locomotion. In conclusion, the treadmill is a valuable tool in research investigating responses to physical work. Much of this research is however concerned with extrapolation to “real world” environments,
and researchers should be aware of possible
differences between the two modes of locomotion under
certain conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-20
Number of pages4
JournalSouth African Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes


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