Warm weather is on its way across the country — really, it is, I promise — and so are spring marathons, meaning that many people soon will begin a new or augmented running program. Many also will wind up sidelined by injury. But a new study suggests that being light on your feet could keep most runners healthy.
By Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times February 10, 2016.
Running injuries are extremely common, with some statistics estimating that as many as 90 percent of runners miss training time every year due to injury.
But the underlying cause of many of these injuries remains in question. Past studies and popular opinion have blamed increased mileage, excess body weight, over-striding, modern running shoes, going barefoot, weak hips, diet, and rough pavement or trails. But most often, studies have found that the best indicator of a future injury is a past one, which, frankly, is not a helpful conclusion for runners hoping not to get hurt.
So for the new study, which was published in December in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at Harvard Medical School and other universities decided to look at running injuries, one of the more obvious but surprisingly understudied aspects of running, and to focus their attention, in part, on those rare long-time runners who have never been hurt.
Specifically, they set out to look at pounding, or impact loading, which means the amount of force that we create when we strike the ground. Pounding is, of course, inevitable during a run. But runners with similar body types and running styles can experience wildly different amounts of impact loading, and it hasn’t been clear to what extent these differences directly contribute to injuries.
Greater vertical impact loading in female runners with medically diagnosed injuries: a prospective investigation, Irene S Davis, Bradley J Bowser, David R Mullineaux. Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094579.
Do Impacts Cause Running Injuries? A Prospective Investigation, Davis I, Bowser B, and Mullineau D. Presented at the American Society of Biomechanics Meeting, Providence RI, August 2010.
Study examines link between runners’ foot injuries, ill-fitting shoes in MedicalXpress
Runners’ foot injuries could be due to ill-fitting shoes in Science Daily
Are ill-fitting shoes causing injuries in Chicago Marathon runners? in Loyola University Health System
The Running Doc on Dorsal foot neutitis, or why your foot goes numb on long runs in New York Daily News