Are you a seasoned runner or just starting out? Training for your first marathon or just enjoy your Sunday jog? Check out these commonly assumed running myths to know what is and isn’t important for improving performance and reducing injury!
‘The wrong shoe type can cause injury’
There is some largely subjective and unreliable evidence claiming barefoot running reduced injury by 2.6x compared to running in shoes
More recent research shows runners who change from a ‘bulkier’ shoe to a minimalistic shoe have a huge varied response in how their running style is affected from this change (with no correlation to injury)
There is a common belief that shoes should be fitted for a person’s foot type (i.e. pronated feet require more arch support). There is actually no evidence that this type of shoe ‘prescription’ affects performance or injury risk
‘Changing running style or becoming a forefoot runner is more efficient and reduces injury’
Forefoot strikers place more force through their ankles and calves, while rearfoot (heel) strikers place more force through their knees and hips
Despite the differing biomechanics, no running style has proved to enhance performance or reduce injury risk
There are large variations in the running styles of national 10K runners, with zero correlation to injury or finishing position
The biomechanical changes that occur when transitioning between running styles changes force distribution to certain muscles and joints, in fact INCREASING injury risk due to this shift in load
Forcing a running style that feels unnatural uses more energy when you run
‘Running will damage your knees’
Evidence is continuing to prove recreational runners are less likely to develop knee osteoarthritis (OA) than non-runners. It appears elite athletes who compete at an international level have the same risk of developing knee OA as non-runners.
Although further evidence is needed for a conclusive answer, a recent study has shown running does not speed the progression of existing OA and may even help to reduce symptoms.
There is strong evidence to suggest resistance training reduces the risk of OA, and slows progression of existing OA
‘You will get sore/injured if you don’t stretch’
Static stretching post run has no positive or negative influence on delayed onset muscle soreness, injury risk or running performance. That being said, as there are no detrimental effects and it can psychologically help runners ‘relax’ after a big training, stretching is still warranted if it feels beneficial for you.
It is well proven that sleep is one of the best forms of recovery. Athletes who sleep for less than 8 hours increase their injury risk by 1.7x compared to those getting 8 hours or more.
Re-fuelling your body with appropriate food will provide your cells with adequate nutrients to recover and grow muscle tissue. Low GI carbohydrates gives your body sustainable energy while you run, and High GI carbohydrates and protein are necessary for filling energy stores and muscle growth
An active warm-up including dynamic stretching (eg walking lunges, leg swings) and easy jogging is commonly used prior to exercise, but has not been proven to have an effect on injury risk.
‘The only thing that will improve running, is more running!’
The biggest injury predictor for runners is overload (doing too much too quickly). Total running load or volume should increase by no more than 10% per week to give your body time to recover and adapt.
Twice weekly strength training has been shown to improve performance, improve fitness or running efficiency and reduce injury risk.
There is no benefit to running performance by training low weight, high rep endurance exercises, nor circuit training.
Have a look at our ‘Basic Guide to Resistance Training’ blog for an explanation between different types of gym training
What does this all mean?
The number one biggest predictor of injury is a significant load increase of more than 10% per week (Running too much too quickly)
Choose a shoe you are comfortable in – there are more effective strategies to help your running than changing shoes
The body is adaptable and resilient, and there is no ‘perfect’ running style
Well thought out recovery (diet, sleep) is one of the most effective ways of reducing injury
Twice weekly strength training will reduce your injury risk and improve your running performance.
Our physiotherapists at East Vic Park Physiotherapy can answer all your running questions and can help review your running program to get you the best possible results