A marker set for measuring the kinematics of the lumbar spine and thoracic spine during running: A technical note


  • Stephen John Preece University of Salford, United Kingdom
  • Christopher Bramah University of Salford, United Kingdom
  • Duncan Mason University of Salford, United Kingdom




Kinematic measurement, Pose calculation, Thorax, Low back, Lumbar, Marker set


A protocol for tracking the motion of the lumbar spine, which uses seven skin mounted markers, has been adopted in previous studies investigating running. However, this configuration of can be difficult to track with passive motion capture systems. This study therefore investigated whether a four-marker configuration could accurately reproduce the pose of the lumbar spine obtained using the seven-marker configuration. The study also investigated two methods of tracking the thorax. The first method consisted of markers attached to the sterum and the second used two markers placed bilaterally over the acromioclavicular joints and another on the posterior thoracic spine. Kinematic data was collect for n=15 male subjects and the pose, calculated using the different tracking configurations, compared for both the lumbar spine and thoracic spine. The results demonstrated a good match between two lumbar tracking marker sets. However, there was considerable difference between the two thoracic markers sets which was likely due to movement of the arms influencing the pose of the thorax. We therefore recommend the use of four makers to track the motion of the lumbar spine and a rigid plate, mounted at the top of the sternum, to track motion of the thoracic spine during running.


Download data is not yet available.


Kiernan, D., Malone, A., O'Brien, T., & Simms, C. K. (2015). A quantitative comparison of two kinematic protocols for lumbar segment motion during gait. Gait & Posture, 41(2), 699–705. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.01.027

Mason, D. L., Preece, S. J., Bramah, C. A., & Herrington, L. C. (2016). Reproducibility of kinematic measures of the thoracic spine, lumbar spine and pelvis during fast running. Gait & Posture, 43, 96–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.11.007

McGinley, J. L., Baker, R., Wolfe, R., Morris, M. E. (2009). The reliability of three-dimensional kinematic gait measurements: a systematic review. Gait & posture, 29, 360-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2008.09.003

Nguyen, T. C., & Baker, R. (2004). Two methods of calculating thorax kinematics in children with myelomeningocele. Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 19(10), 1060–1065. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2004.07.004

Saunders, S. W., Schache, A., Rath, D., Hodges, P. W. (2005). Changes in three dimensional lumbo-pelvic kinematics and trunk muscle activity with speed and mode of locomotion. Clinical biomechanics, 20, 784-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2005.04.004

Schache, A. G., Blanch, P., Rath, D., Wrigley, T., & Bennell, K. (2002). Three-dimensional angular kinematics of the lumbar spine and pelvis during running. Human Movement Science, 21(2), 273–293. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-9457(02)00080-5

Schache, A. G., Blanch, P. D., Rath, D. A., Wrigley, T. V, Starr, R., & Bennell, K. L. (2002). Intra-subject repeatability of the three dimensional angular kinematics within the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during running. Gait & Posture, 15(2), 136–145. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0966-6362(01)00188-6

Seay, J., Selbie, W. S., Hamill, J. (2008). In vivo lumbo-sacral forces and moments during constant speed running at different stride lengths. J Sport Sci, 26, 1519-1529. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410802298235

Seay, J. F., Van Emmerik, R. E., Hamill, J. (2011). Low back pain status affects pelvis-trunk coordination and variability during walking and running. Clinical biomechanics, 26, 572-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2010.11.012

Seay, J. F., Van Emmerik, R. E. A., & Hamill, J. (2011). Influence of low back pain status on pelvis-trunk coordination during walking and running. Spine, 36(16), E1070-9. https://doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182015f7c

Wu, G., van der Helm, F. C. T., Veeger, H. E. J. D., Makhsous, M., Van Roy, P., Anglin, C., … Buchholz, B. (2005). ISB recommendation on definitions of joint coordinate systems of various joints for the reporting of human joint motion--Part II: shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Journal of Biomechanics, 38(5), 981–992. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2004.05.042


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Preece, S. J., Bramah, C., & Mason, D. (2017). A marker set for measuring the kinematics of the lumbar spine and thoracic spine during running: A technical note. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 11(3), 390–396. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2016.113.07



Technical Notes