Running injuries are unfortunately extremely common. Over a full year, an estimated 90% of runners will temporarily stop training because they have been inured. It is not very clear why runners are getting injured. Some blame it on their new shoes, others on excessive body weight or some believe they were injured because they increase mileage too fast. It is difficult to clinically determine the exact cause of the high rate of injuries among runners.
A study published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine recently looked at pounding or impact loading. The researchers recruited 249 females who were experienced recreational runners. They studied their injury history and used technical devices to determine their impact load. The researchers discovered that 21 runners had never been injured before the study and weren’t injured either during the two years observation time. This small group of non injured runners was compared to the group of runners who suffered the most serious injuries. They discovered that the never injured runners were landing much more lightly on their feet than the badly injured runners. One of the doctor mentioned being amazed by one of the woman they studied and who had one of the lowest impact landings. He said: “When you watched her run, it was like seeing an insect running across water. It was beautiful.” The woman ran several marathons and never sustained any injury.
If your are an avid runner, next time you are training try to make a conscious effort to land more lightly to avoid potential injuries. Doctors involved in the study also recommend landing closer to the mid-foot instead of on the heel. It may help soften the landing. You may also consider increasing the number of steps you take per minute. Smaller but faster steps are better. The study also demonstrated that increasing the cadence may reduce the impact loading. Imagine that you are walking over eggshells.
Read a complete article on this study in the New York Times