My goodness! What a revelation.
Moreover, according to the 'experts', running is a repetitive stress injury (RSI) waiting to happen. In fact, it takes roughly 1500 steps (750 per foot) to complete just one mile. That's 750 hops, in a nutshell, on one foot, in order to complete one mile.
While I agree with some of the injury potential, I have a few things to add:
1) Steady state running (without intervals) is not the most efficient way to lose weight or burn fat and stay injury free. Why not? Most people who use running as a method to lose fat do not take the time to train for running and instead, run as a their only form of training. This, combined with the fact that they are typically overweight, only adds to the stress placed on joints because the runner is inefficient and not strong enough to absorb 1500 reps per mile correctly.
3) Understanding what injuries happen to runners can help you prevent them: Oddly enough, I believe you can actually prevent chronic injuries such as the ones that befall many a runner. Think about it: a football player who separates a shoulder when another player falls on has little he can do to prevent that injury (other than avoid the sport). But in truth, a runner who adequately prepares for the sport can definitely learn about the trouble areas and the requirements that can help a runner stay healthy. Let's look at one of the main causes of those injuries.
Range of Motion/Stiffness/Stability
In his book Movement: Functional Movement Systems—Screening, Assessment and Corrective Strategies
physical therapist and author Gray Cook discusses some patterns we find in the human body. For runners, these patterns are key to understanding the true prevention of injury.
Here is an excerpt stating how different joints have specific requirements:
1. The foot has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. We can blame poor footwear, weak feet and exercises that neglect the foot, but the point is that the majority of our feet could be more stable.
2. The ankle has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. This is particularly evident in the common tendency toward dorsiflexion limitation.
3. The knee has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. This tendency usually predates knee injuries and degeneration that actually make it become stiff.
4. The hip has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. This is particularly evident on range-of-motion testing for extension, medial and lateral rotation.
5. The lumbar and sacral region has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. This region sits at the crossroads of mechanical stress, and lack of motor control is often replaced with generalized stiffness as a survival strategy.
So what does this mean for runners?
A) A joint requires one of two things: stiffness (stability), or mobility and flexibility.
B) If said joint does not have the required quality mentioned above, it places undue stress upon the neighboring joint and muscles around it.
C) If the issue is not resolved with exercises and training for the proper requirements of the joint, it is only a matter of time before the overstressed joint cries out for help (usually in the form of some sort of pain).
A few basic examples:
Someone who does not have adequate ankle range-of-motion (mobility) will force the knee and Achilles to overcompensate for this lack of range of motion. Commonly affects women who wear heels to work and men who wear poor fitting running shoes (Nike Shox).
Someone who does not have adequate hip range-of-motion will force the knee, the pelvis and the lower back to compensate, placing a large amount of stress on an area that is usually stressed too much as it is. Commonly found in those who sit all day and those who only participate in aerobic cardio (knee-dominant movements become even more knee-dominant because hip cannot contribute due to lack of recruitment and range-of-motion).
"Corrective" Exercises to enhance Mobility
Adding these to your warmup, whether before running or lower-body movements, will definitely enable the right joints and muscles to absorb and apply force. No equipment needed, just some space to move.
Until next time,