Physical Training Nov 2004

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Running and Injury

Copyright Michael Moon © 2004 all rights reserved
Mike Moon, Deep Water Exercise
Mike Moon, founder of
Deep Water Exercise
It is an important fact that to achieve optimal athletic performance in many sporting activities, including the martial arts, one must strive for a high level of cardiovascular conditioning, as well as the maintenance of a relatively lean body mass.  Pursuing this higher state of fitness will also lead to a greater level of overall health and wellbeing.  Research has overwhelmingly demonstrated a significant reduction in the risk of developing most lifestyle diseases (heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and many cancers) with regular aerobic exercise and the maintenance of a healthy body composition.  The most energy costly and time efficient fitness activity for the maintenance of body composition and aerobic conditioning is running.  Running is also the most convenient and least costly exercise that one can partake in.  The only really specialized equipment you must have is the correct shoe for your particular needs.

It is due to the factors that make running such an efficient form of exercise that it is also highly stressful on the muscular and skeletal structures.  When running, the individual is not only weight-bearing, they are actually imparting a stress to the body of up to three times their body weight on every foot strike.  In order to propel the body forward with every stride the body's muscular system must be able to generate immense forces.  It therefore would benefit most athletes to be knowledgeable in how to prevent injuries associated with running, as well as how to treat common running injuries and how to maintain a high degree of fitness if running related injuries occur.

As noted, distance running delivers great forces of stress to the body through impact with the ground.  It is this impact stress which accounts for the majority of running injuries.  The nature of these injuries and the manner in which they occur give them the categorization of overuse injuries.  This category of injury therefore occurs over a prolonged period of time due to repeated bouts of overstress.  There are many injuries that runners incur of the acute nature as well, yet the majority, come from the overuse category.  The typical scenario eliciting injury is one in which the intensity or quantity of training is increased at such a rate that it overloads the “physiological mechanisms of adaptation".  It is this cumulative overload that leads to the insidious onset of injury, and it requires a continual air of suspicion when increasing training, in order to ensure early detection of problems.  With early detection the severity of injury and the degree of rehabilitation required can be significantly reduced.

As with any sport and the injuries that may be incurred, there is a great degree of chance present with ones involvement with distance running.  There is always the possibility for unique or somewhat different injuries and runners seem to almost seek out these possibilities at times.  However, the focus of this series of articles will remain with those injuries deemed most common to distance runners due to the inherent requirements or stresses of the activity.  As has been stated previously, the causative factor for most running related injuries comes from the enormous stress imposed with impact to the ground.  It seems obvious then that the vast majority of injuries that runners incur would present from the waist down or in the lower limbs.

Many studies have narrowed down the injuries that appear most frequently with runners.  These common injuries have then been labeled specifically or been placed into a category of injuries that have various sites of occurrence.  Although the labeling may vary slightly depending on the authority referred to, the following injuries or injury categories are the ones considered most common to runners.  Stress reactions and fractures, Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fascitis, and Exertional Compartment Syndromes.

Next issue we will look at the first of these injury categories: Stress Reactions and/or Fractures.

Mike Moon has a M.Ed in Coaching (UVIC) B.PHED, BA, B.ED (UBC) and has been Assistant Coach of UBC Track and Cross Country for 15 years. He is also Head Coach, St. Georges Junior School Track and Field Program. He has developed the Deep Water Exercise program which is used by elite level and professional athletes for rehabilitation and training. Mike continues to compete at the Masters level (in distances from 5000m to the marathon).

His website is:

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Physical Training Nov 2004