What is it about?

This study showed that the footstep sounds of a runner can influence the step frequency of a neighboring runner when running together, suggesting that the characteristics of running steps can be unintentionally modulated by auditory information generated by others during running.

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Why is it important?

Unintentional gait synchronization was reported to occur between athletes running in adjacent lanes in track and field events (Varlet & Richardson, 2015), but specific sensory information (e.g., visual or auditory) responsible for the synchronization was ambiguous. If the only factor involved in this synchronization is visual information, then there would be only a unilateral effect from the preceding runner to the following runner. On the other hand, if auditory information intervenes in this synchronization, it is possible that a subsequent runner who is not in the visual field may influence the preceding runner. In this study, we set up an experimental environment in which visual interaction between two adjacent runners was blocked, and clarified that gait frequency can be changed only by auditory information.


What distinguishes a good day from a bad day in running performance? Running performance is actually influenced by various factors including environmental condition, physiological resources, and psychological/perceptual variables. This study indicates that the step frequency of a runner, a significant variable in running performance, can be unintentionally influenced by auditory information caused by the footsteps of a neighboring runner. This means that the sounds of neighboring runners' footsteps can act as a psychological/ perceptual factor that affects running performance. Running is generally considered to be an individual sport, but in actual competitions, runners are often surrounded by other runners. As shown in this study, there is an interpersonal interaction between runners. Therefore, we believe that research and instruction focusing on this interaction is also important for performance enhancement.

Hiroaki Furukawa
The university of Tokyo

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Auditory interaction between runners: Does footstep sound affect step frequency of neighboring runners?, PLoS ONE, January 2023, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280147.
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