Real-time cueing is our bread and butter here at New York Custom Physical Therapy. We are constantly striving to improve our clients’ running biomechanics to prevent injury and improve performance.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts took a look at real-time cueing to see if it was truly effective. These scientists’ primary concern was for biomechanics and forces that cause tibial stress fractures.

Tibial stress fractures are related to the rate of tibial acceleration (during the contact/stance phase of running) and the rate at which forces load the bone. 

Five “physically fit” college students were recruited for this study (physically fit was deemed running at least 32km/wk for the preceding 3 months). A device was placed on each subject’s tibia (shin bone) while they ran on a treadmill, and the treadmill was custom-built with devices to measure forces.

The first 5 minutes were a warm-up at a self-selected speed. During the next 10 minutes the runners were provided with visual feedback about the rate of tibial acceleration — they looked at a screen that showed current tibial acceleration and a line that was the goal. The runners continued running for 10 minutes after the visual feedback as well. 

Results showed significantly decreased acceleration and forces during visual feedback for 4/5 subjects. All subjects has decreased acceleration and forces during the 10 minute run after visual feedback.

What this means is that these runners were able to significantly alter their running mechanics to reduce their risk for tibial stress fractures. 

Real-time cueing is effective in one session! The next step in research is to show how well this is maintained in the long term… we’ll be on the lookout for that study!

Cathlin Fitzgerald, PT, DPT, CSCS