Sarah is a PhD student working within Insight Centre for Data Analytics and DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance. Sarah’s research is focused around the factors relating to running injuries. While being a popular activity, with many psychological, social and physical health benefits, the incidence of injury among novice and recreational runners is very high. As a physiotherapist, Sarah has witnessed the burden and frequency of injuries in this population. It is thought that biomechanical factors such as running technique, strength, flexibility, foot shape and training characteristics may play a part in this complex problem, though definitive predictors of injury are still uncertain.
Sarah’s research is called the DCU Running Injury Surveillance Centre (RISC) Study and aims to investigate the cause of running-related injuries among recreational and novice runners in Ireland. Identifying a cause for running related injuries could ultimately have potential benefits for injury prevention, treatment and rehab. To do this, Sarah and the team use innovative technology called inertial measurement units (IMUs). IMUs are light-weight sensors that can be placed on the body in order to track the movement of the limbs and give us a sense of how hard someone is impacting the ground when running. To date, the DCU RISC Study has collected information on the characteristics and technique of 315 runners using motion analysis technology, sensors, strength and flexibility measures and surveys. These participants are now currently being tracked for one year to identify who sustains a running related injury. This allows for examination of the factors involved in developing such an injury.
The DCU RISC Study aims to ultimately equip clinicians with the knowledge of potential risk factors for running injuries and to help runners step in the right direction of remaining injury free.