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Open AccessArticle

Estimating Stair Running Performance Using Inertial Sensors

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA 02139, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2017, 17(11), 2647;
Received: 10 October 2017 / Revised: 11 November 2017 / Accepted: 13 November 2017 / Published: 17 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wearable and Ambient Sensors for Healthcare and Wellness Applications)
Stair running, both ascending and descending, is a challenging aerobic exercise that many athletes, recreational runners, and soldiers perform during training. Studying biomechanics of stair running over multiple steps has been limited by the practical challenges presented while using optical-based motion tracking systems. We propose using foot-mounted inertial measurement units (IMUs) as a solution as they enable unrestricted motion capture in any environment and without need for external references. In particular, this paper presents methods for estimating foot velocity and trajectory during stair running using foot-mounted IMUs. Computational methods leverage the stationary periods occurring during the stance phase and known stair geometry to estimate foot orientation and trajectory, ultimately used to calculate stride metrics. These calculations, applied to human participant stair running data, reveal performance trends through timing, trajectory, energy, and force stride metrics. We present the results of our analysis of experimental data collected on eleven subjects. Overall, we determine that for either ascending or descending, the stance time is the strongest predictor of speed as shown by its high correlation with stride time. View Full-Text
Keywords: wearable sensors; inertial measurement units; motion tracking; human performance; stair running wearable sensors; inertial measurement units; motion tracking; human performance; stair running
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Ojeda, L.V.; Zaferiou, A.M.; Cain, S.M.; Vitali, R.V.; Davidson, S.P.; Stirling, L.A.; Perkins, N.C. Estimating Stair Running Performance Using Inertial Sensors. Sensors 2017, 17, 2647.

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