Are Running Injuries Inevitable? Not According To These Running Gurus.

A Third Of Runners Suffer Injuries Each Year.  It Doesn’t Have To Be You. 

From stress fractures, to illiotibial band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis, injuries seem to be a common occurrence amongst runners.  Is it because the human body really isn’t made for running, or do runners need to do more stretching, core-work and cross-training to reduce their risk of injury?

A strong core is key to injury-free running.

Expert Advice From Five Running Gurus On Injury Prevention:

Jay Dicharry – According to Jay Dicharry, a physical therapist and the director of Biomechanics at Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, OR, one third of runners are hurt every single year.  Dicharry, author of the book, “Anatomy for Runners”, says that too many books focus on the development of the cardiovascular system.  His book helps people identify their weaknesses like over striding, poor foot control, and various posture issues.  He believes that running doesn’t help the individual develop as a true athlete which results in a high incidence of injury.

Robert Forster – Robert Forster a sports physical therapist in Santa Monica, California has been treating injured athletes for 30 years.  He believes that humans have evolved into runners.  Our bodies have changed to be effective at running.  Why are there so many running injuries? Forster blames a lot of it on stride length and says everyone is over striding.  In an recent article in Reuters Health he was quoted as saying, “You want to land under your center of gravity, or as close to it as possible.  We tend to take too few steps per minute.  Less time on the ground would take care of a lot of problems.”

Jason Fitzgerald – Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:30 marathoner and running coach warns people to not let their ‘engine outpace their chassis.  Fitzgerald says that it’s important to remember that your aerobic fitness develops at a faster pace than your structural.  Your aerobic threshold might be high enough to support longer and faster runs, but your bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles aren’t ready for that yet.  He tells his runners, “you never want a Ferrari engine in the frame of a Geo Prizm.  The engine is going to tear the car apart.”  What does Fitzgerald recommend?  Strength training and core exercises so the muscles and connective tissue are able to withstand the impact of running.

Dr. Lewis Maharam – Dr. Maharam, a former medical director of the New York City Marathon and author of the book “Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running,” does believe that people are born to run.  With the proper training, of course.  He says all you need is a good pair of running shoes and shorts and cross-training isn’t necessary, but it does increase speed. Maharam does say that preparation is the key to running injury free.  Start with a walk/run program [like the Couch to 5K] and never increase your mileage by more than 10% per week.

Jeff Galloway – Jeff Galloway, a lifetime runner, was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team in the 10,000 meter event, has completed over 120 marathons and has been free of overuse injuries for almost 30 years.  In an article Galloway wrote for he says that “having 48 hours between runs is like magic in repairing damage.”  His other injury-prevention advice includes  going slower on the longer runs, taking more walk breaks, and don’t stretch if you have an ache, pain or injury.  Galloway also recommends a thorough warm-up prior to speed training.  Speed training produces a lot of injuries, but a good warm-up and a ‘few light accelerations’ will help.

Listen To Your Body – And The Experts

The words running and injury don’t have to be synonyms.  Listening to your body and heeding the advice of running experts are the first steps to recognizing when you might be setting yourself up for injury by overdoing it and letting your engine outpace your chassis. Maybe you just need to rest for 48 hours. Whatever it is, most of the running gurus agree that you can be a successful runner – without injury – for years if you know what you’re doing.

What about you? Do you have injury prevention tips to share?