sitting at a rest stop in maine, after a brief concentrated visit with my daughter at college up here, resting up before heading to the airport to ….rest up some more til my delayed flight comes in, i figured i’d take this time to do something constructive. not able, nor really willing to run any more – it’s about 15 deg out there!!! – i’m content waiting til i get home to use the ski machine, the last bastion of my arthritic knee’s abilities. so, while here, i’m reading. in particular, another article about running injuries and foot strike: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/why-runners-get-injured/?ref=he…
i’ve commented several times on the theories behind barefoot running; i’ve even included some personal tales of my own, how i’m now a committed barefoot shoe wearer. the aches in my lower legs as the day wore on, wearing top brand, podiatrist-recommended, orthotic-inserted running shoes are gone now that i wear minimalist shoes at work. no arch pain, no calf pain, no knee pain. of course, i don’t run, so i’m not as prone to getting injured as in the past. but i’ve had my injuries, thank you; now, tho i don’t run, as i reported recently, while in colorado springs for a NSCA meeting, i did go run, on astroturf, and without pain during or after….so long as i stayed on the balls of the feet. but this is anecdote, not science.
the article above is somewhat scientific. there is reference to a study in MSSE on real runners and their injuries and foot striking techniques. the article points out that runners don’t always hit the ground one way or the other – terrain matters, for even heel strikers have to go to the balls of the feet to push up hills – but that one’s tendency to run one way or the other – heel vs fore foot strike – predisposes to injury. in particular, heel hitters are more prone than forefooters.
there are several reasons one can provide for this but the reality is sometimes we just get hurt. yes, believe it or not, some of us are just destined to get hurt for reasons that, unknown to us, others doing the same darn thing just don’t get hurt. now, don’t get me wrong – i am not a determinist by any means. i don’t think this is a god-issue. believers and non-believers get hurt. but the stories abound, and i wish i could easily and readily provide the clues that will help future active participants prevent injuries; i can’t.
when i did tae kwon do daily, in my 20s and 30s, and even quite a bit into my 40s, i beat up my joints figuring i’d not live long enough that it would matter. just a silly boy thing but i figured i’d die young. oops. i lived. now, with a new hip and someday a new knee, i feel my past. and many of my peers who trained similarly or even less also feel theirs. and have their metal joints as proof. some have survived longer, if not wiser, in the sport of choice. many quit before the damage became irreversible. but it just goes to show that we humans simply were not designed to put ourselves on the rack for as many years as we tend to do. in our past- say, pre-1950 – we worked hard, died young, and when we played – one, maybe two days a week on weekends usually – we played with intensity but not volume. and that, i believe, is the source of most athletic injuries. it is the source of most work-related chronic injuries – doing the same things over and over year in, year out – why not for athletic injuries. we read, in regards to childhood sports, that kids should play multiple sports and not focus on any one sport until after high school. it all makes sense. play, play a lot but don’t play the same thing over and over and over.
most runners, esp at the competitive level, tend to have started at some point in their youth and continue on into middle age, wherever that may be. as such, for 20, maybe 30, or more, years, they pound their joints on surfaces we were not intended to pound on. not like our forebearers – who ran, if at all, on turf, and only when necessary, and even then, only briefly – we run for kicks, or emotional issues, on hard surfaces laid out for cars and water removal. angled roads that impose their own forces up the kinetic chain, that the earth as a natural surface varies. it just makes sense to me: we do too much in too much the same way too often starting too young with too little rest. the other things – foot shape, quad strength, hamstring flexibility, etc – are correlates. i don’t think they are causes. and tho i promote fitness, i promote wellness, so even as i prepart to hit the road again, let me just say: do something, anything, and maybe even everything; but don’t just do one thing.
safe travels….by whatever means.