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Hopping to Run?

What if I were to ask you to hop on one leg 500 times? And for fun, let’s repeat that on the other side. I’m not sure about you, but the thought of it makes me sore, yet this is what we often expect of our bodies when we go out for a run. Running is actually a series of hops from leg to leg. When you consider this, it’s not hard to see why running can be so difficult.

Running can be effectively used as a route to becoming fit, but it can also be a significant source of injuries. New runners have a much higher injury rate than experienced runners. Statistically, due to their running, 37­60% of recreational runners will skip later workouts due to injury or pain. Of that number, as many as 70% will re­injure themselves. With these numbers in mind, it makes you wonder why anyone would choose this path to achieve their fitness goals.

Injury rates are an issue with runners. Of course, many armchair runners support the theory that running is a young person’s sport. They claim running leads to worn out knees later in life. However, research comparing runners to non­-runners refutes the theory that knee arthritis comes from running.

Often, published articles emphasize the importance of the “correct way” to run. Many will purport the benefits of changing to a different style foot strike, a different posture, or altering your stride length. As a physical therapist looking at the research, I am interested in the fact that research does not establish a “proper” running form. Despite this, plenty of research shows runners need strength and endurance in their legs making it so they maintain a stable pattern to avoid injury.

At Point Forward, we see many runners who have chosen different styles of running or changed their style. I can tell you from my experience with runners over the years that at the end of the day, when injuries occur, no new pattern can “fix” the problem. Instead, the underlying issues need to be corrected. For example, if a person runs with a tight calf it can cause them to run with poor shock absorption. If you alter them to a different running style, it has not resolved the tight muscle, and problems will therefore continue.

Why is it that so many think running is the way to get fit? We should instead get fit to run. The best approach to taking up a running program is to prepare for it by strengthening the legs prior to starting your program. Having a running analysis performed is always an enlightening experience and can prevent future aches, pains, and injury. The key is not to take off and hop 500 times without preparing for it!

– John Jaeger, MPT


 

To schedule an appointment or attend a running presentation at 212, please contact us (715) 254-3978.

Point Forward Physical Therapy is a unique physical therapy clinic in that it provides services utilizing the Adventure 212 facility. The facility contains a warm water pool for aquatic therapy and allows us to care for our patients in an environment which is unparalleled in the Stevens Point area.

Our therapists are highly trained in treating the whole person utilizing research based methods. We also prioritize the education of our patients on the fastest way to return to the activities they enjoy. Learn more