Updated: Jul 11
Establishing a controversial opinion on a very popular topic, Running.
If there is one thing I hate hearing, it is hearing that running destroys your knees! For some reason, this myth has infiltrated most peoples thought processes and has become engrained in common practice. However, I see this as potentially harmful and preventing many people from living a higher quality of life that includes something that use to be a way of life for people for centuries prior, the ability to run.
Why is this Myth so Rampant?
The saying, "everything in moderation," is applicable here. Running is not itself bad or dangerous for your knees; however, running with poor form or inadequate preparation is where things start to pave the way for injury. The vast majority of running injuries are due to overuse, which is completely preventable through means of proper strength and conditioning, progressive overload, as well as, proper recovery from running!
Planning can help to prevent most of these injuries. By utilizing a system or a strength and conditioning / running program, an athlete can systematically increase volume and manage load properly. More on this in the Progressive Overload section...
Strength Training Provides Valuable Resiliency to Injury
Proper strength training for runners can provide them with the tools needed for running pain and injury free. Strength training will increase neuromuscular coordination and strength providing runners with an increase in resiliency to injury through managing the constant impact of running.
Neuromuscular coordination, the ability of the central nervous system to effectively control and coordinate the contraction of muscle, or muscle groups in order to complete the task at hand.
-Training 4 Endurance, "What is Neuromuscular Coordination?"
An increase in neuromuscular coordination will allow the muscles, or muscle groups, specific to running will be much more efficient in the movements demanded by running.
Utilizing Progressive Overload
Before utilizing progressive overload, we need to understand what exactly is progressive overload. Progressive overload is systematically and progressively applying a stimulus that causes a favorable adaptation. Now, one can apply progressive overload by increasing volume, or intensity over time. This is the most basic form of progressive overload; however, we can also apply a favorable stimulus by changing the exercise, making it more unstable/ demanding, or using tempo (or varying the speed).
Specific to running, progressive overload is most commonly utilized through carefully managing running volume. For example, if you were a new runner, then it would not be wise to just start running without a plan because it would be difficult to find baseline. Instead, runners should perform some form of testing prior to running to properly calculate a baseline.
Running Tests to Gauge a Baseline
While there are many tests that gauge cardiovascular fitness, we are going to utilize a test that is specific to gauging our ability to handle volume and finding a starting point to progress from.
In this test, you will perform a run at a relatively easy pace (able to hold a conversation - somewhat challenging though). You will run for as long as you can hold that pace, or until you start feeling irritation in a joint. Upon any discomfort in the joints that increases with running, you will terminate the run.
Measure the volume, and now you have a baseline volume load that you can handle. Slowly progress the volume from that point. Do not make large jumps in volume load because this can cause a negative reaction and cause injury if continued.
Now, if you were wanting to measure fitness, then you could use a variety of tests! I'll save that for another article...
Need help? SOVRN Coaching & Fitness has been helping athletes and people to achieve their goals through evidence based methods for years.