24 January 2008

Running technique - a right way to run?

Recently, a number of new theories for running technique have been proposed. They make claims ranging from performance to less injury. We examine the claims.

Running is a basic activity, right? If you want technical, you go to dance classes, or you join a karate studio, where an instructor will teach you how to perform that activity. Even swimming is a sport where the coach will stand along side you and demonstrate correct arm movement, position of the body, use of the legs, and so on.

  • Faster
  • Less injury prone
  • More efficient when you run.

here and here.

Runners - a natural audience or victims of marketing hype?
At first glance, and through your first few reads, it's quite an appealing concept. Why? Because runners seem to be eternally fighting against the spectre of injury. And what runner is not interested in improving their running times without adding on 20 miles a week onto their training.

Running injuries: more common than you think
Do you know, for example, that the average yearly prevalence of injury in runners is somewhere between 40 and 70%? In other words, between four and seven out of every 10 runners will be injured a year. For example, a study by Van Middelkoop et al. found that 55% of runners had been injured in the year leading up to a city marathon. Other studies have produced even more alarming results - 90% of runners injured per year in training for a marathon.

  • "Anti-pronation devices limit movement of the foot, reducing the risk of injury in overpronators", or
  • "Forefoot and rearfoot cushioning devices reduce impact and the risk of injury,"

Evaluating the scientific evidence for running techniques
Point is, injuries are happening to runners all the time, and now we have these two running techniques that make claims about solving all the problems we face.

A debate of the evidence is needed: your thoughts are welcome
What we need to do now is find the scientific angle. And so what we'll do over the next few days is look at these running techniques in a bit more detail, and evaluate the claims they make. Where are they going wrong, or right?




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