Consider this! “If a 150-pound man were to walk one mile, his stride length would average 2 ½ feet, impact forces would be 110% of body weight and a force of 175 tons would be applied to his feet. If the same man were to run one mile, his stride length would be 4 ½ feet, impact forces would increase to 3 to 5 times body weight and his feet would have to absorb a force in excess of 350 tons” (1). Runners require the use of nearly every muscle group and joint in the body to absorb the impact forces associated with the foot strike. Although there are significant impact forces associated with running, it still has the capacity to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of chronic illness, prevent depression, and reduce Alzheimer’s risk factors. Studies show that running as few as 10 miles per week can increase one’s lifespan by six years (2).  We also know that running does not cause degenerative joint disease. This belief is common amongst individuals who associate running with arthritis. A 25-year study from Stanford University found that running did not alter the severity or prevalence of knee osteoarthritis (3). In fact, literature reviews reveal that recreational runners were much less likely to become disabled as they age compared to sedentary individuals (4). We see tremendous benefits associated with recreational running. However, the annual injury rate for runners in the United States is close to 50% (5).

With a significant injury rate amongst the running population it is essential to utilize strategies to reduce the likelihood of hanging up the running shoes for good.  Various parameters play a role in our running form and injury susceptibility. It is essential to consider body composition, leg length, foot function, hip function, pace, stride, footfall, and overall muscle activation when attempting to analyze one’s running gait. Also, it is important to consider the impact forces associated with specific gait patterns. For example, sprinters typically demonstrate a significantly longer stride than recreational runners. In fact, shortening stride length by as little as 10% has been shown to reduce impact forces by 20% (6). Shortening the stride does reduce speed and therefore running recommendations must be rendered with the goals of the runner in mind. From a structural standpoint, we find that 74% of running involves posture maintenance. Therefore, it is crucial to develop strategies that reduce postural energy leaks. Strategies include building appropriate abdominal pressure with breath, activating the muscles of the hips, and developing a running form that emphasizes a footfall underneath the bodies center of mass. Strategies are applied on an individual basis and therefore general shoe or gait recommendations are not always effective.

For many running is far greater than a form of exercise. Running is a lifestyle, a form of meditation, a stress reducer, and so much more. Our goal is to provide individuals with the care and tools necessary to log their desired miles on the road or trails. We utilize functional screens, slow motion video analysis, specific corrective exercises, chiropractic, and acupuncture to address the concerns of our patients. If you have running related concerns, or desire to reduce the likelihood of injury, contact us for a complimentary consultation. As always, if you found this information helpful please share with family and friends!

References:

  1. Michaud, Thomas. Injury-free running: how to build strength, improve form, and treat/prevent injuries. Newton, MA: Newton Biomechanics, 2013. Print.
  2. Van Mechelen W. Running Injuries: a review of the epidemiological literature. Sports Med. 1992;4:320.
  3. Van Gent R, Siem G, Van Middelkoop M, et al. Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41:469-480.
  4. Fredericson M, Anuruddh M. Epidemiology and etiology of marathon running injuries. Sports Med. 2007;37:437-439.
  5. Luke A, Stehling C, Stahl R, et al. High-field magnetic resonance imaging assessment of articular cartilage before and after marathon running: does long-distance running lead to cartilage damage? Am J Sports Med. 2010;38:2273-2280.
  6. Rompe J, Nafke B, Furia J. Eccentric loading, shock wave treatment or a wait-and-see policy for tendinopathy of the main body of the tendo Achilles. Am J Sp Med. 2007;35(3):374-83.