Is running bad for you?
The secrets to running injury free.
We love treating runners, there’s nothing quite like it. As soon as you look at the new patient form and see ‘Running’ listed under activities you instantly know a few things. This person is devastated if they can’t run, they are terrified that you are going to tell them to stop running, they probably don’t do enough strength or mobility work but they see it as something they should do (but that’s time away from running!!), have had 100’s of people/professions treat their different aches and pains, they probably buy a new pair of shoes every 3 months, have a cupboard full of‘quick fixes’ like compression socks, braces, tape, ice packs, heat packs and even a few snake oils. They generally have misguided thoughts in their head that limit them like ‘running is bad for my knees,’ ‘I can only run while I’m younger’ or our favourite ‘running wears my knees/hips/back out. Does this sound like you? Well keep reading my running compadre.
So let’s start with the big one on the list, is running bad for you? Unequivocally, 100%, without doubt or question, the answer to this is NO! You will be pleased to know that running is an absolutely fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise and if anyone tells you differently, just smile and nod. Let’s dig into this a little deeper.
Firstly, runners often believe, even to a small extent, that the running they are doing is ‘wearing them out,’ specifically their knees, hips and back. Or those years playing football, netball or running as a kid, has caused their knee pain or caused their knees to wear out. The link between any exercise and it being in some way bad for you, is something we as a society need to remove. Humans aren’t a consumable item like a tyre or shoe, our body has a tremendous ability to heal and rejuvenate given the right environment. If you remember one thing from this article it’s this…
WE DON’T WEAR OUT, WE RUST OUT!
This year the American College of Rhumetology released a retrospecitive cross-sectional study of osteoarthritis by Grace H Lo et al. (2004-2014) with 2637 participants. The study used knee radiograph readings (X-rays), symptom assessments (asked how their knee felt), and completed lifetime physical activity surveys. What did they conclude?
“There is no increased risk of symptomatic knee OA among self-selected runners compared with nonrunners in a cohort recruited from the community. In those without OA, running does not appear to be detrimental to the knees.” More research needs to be compiled and is, but the old dogma that running is bad for your knees, is being quickly squashed.
So if running is good for you… why do some of you get pain with it? You will notice I mentioned biomechanics above as a factor. Abnormal joint stress causes pain and yes in some instances, even osteoarthritis. But blaming running for your knee issues, is like blaming water for someone drowning. What confuses people even more is the misdiagnosis of osteoarthritis from a practitioner’s poor examination or understanding of imaging (X-ray, MRI, ultra sounds etc). Pain can be caused by a number of structures. As for the knee, ligaments, tendons, muscles and even a thing called facia can cause pain, even without damage being present (mind blown!). For example, a really common source of knee pain in runners arises from the patello-femoral joint (Knee cap) caused by an abnormal tracking patella. Biomechanics is a key factor that limits someone from reaching their running goals, or being able to enjoy an afternoon summer run around the block, sun on your face and the smell of your neighbours’ dinners in your nostrils. Biomechanics encompasses all things from running technique, weakness, poor range of movement (both too much and not enough), muscle imbalances, muscle in activity or hyper activity. To sum up you need to get the race car moving and working well before you put it on the track.
So what do you need to do next? You could do a quick google of running biomechanics, watch some Youtube videos on corrective exercises and strength training for runners, but we all know where that will end up. Eventually realising you need a professionals help. So who are these professionals? They can range from Physio’s, Chiros, Osteos or Exercise Physiologists. So how do you pick one that can help you? They need to be a practitioner that can address your body from head to toe (quit literally!) and get you moving correctly, treating your body holistically. They need to assess your biomechanics, technique and functional movements, then work out a plan to get you moving towards your running best. Sure passive modalities can help like massage, manipulation, stretching, cupping, dry needling, active release therapy, trigger point therapy etc etc but you need to be introduced to a progressive exercise routine that addresses your biomechanical flaws in order to get your running technique as fluent as possible.
Our team at Bounce Back are more than capable of guiding you through this process. We are holding a Running seminar on this very topic on Saturday the 30th of September at our new Picton Clinic’s Gym. It will be a practical seminar looking into the biomechanics of running, where you might need to improve and how to do it. If you’re interested in learning more, please pop your email below and we will send you your free invitation.
Spots are limited so get in quick!