5 Common Running Myths Demystified
The popularity of running has grown tremendously over the past number of years. Not only is it a great way to stay physically active but it also has a significant social aspect. Like many things, there are stories or facts that people create but yet have no evidence to back them up or there is actually research to prove these claims are false. Here are 5 of the most common running myths and the actual reality of the situation:
1- Most running injuries are caused by external factors (such as shoes, running surfaces, etc) or intrinsic factors (lack of flexibility, muscle weakness, abnormal biomechanics).
The main cause of running injuries is the amount of stress applied to the tissues. Nearly 80% of running injuries are attributable to either an increase in training volume or training intensity. When someone consults with us, we often look for any recent changes to the training regime.
2- A shoe’s cushioning prevents injury by reducing the shock to the runner’s body.
Clinical and scientific research does not support this statement. It has actually been shown that cushioning increases the stress on the human skeleton. The body has a natural shock absorption mechanism but with increased external cushioning this process gets disrupted. This is part of the reason why barefoot and minimalist running has become so popular over the past several years.
3- Stretching decreases the incidence of injury and exercise-induced muscle pain while improving performance and post-run recovery.
Stretching before physical activity does not reduce the incidence of injury and may even increase it. Studies have also shown that stretching has no influence on post-run pain or recovery. Pre-run stretching has a negative impact on speed and endurance because it lengthens muscles that actually need to work in a shortened position during the activity. It has been shown that regular stretching done in separate sessions appears to improve speed and performance.
4- Running increases arthritis of the knee because over time, the significant and repeated impact with the ground causes irreversible damage to the cartilage.
Several studies have shown that arthritis is no more common in runners than in non-runners. Studies also demonstrate that the cartilage in a runner’s knee is thicker and stronger than that of a sedentary person showing that the body has a capacity to adapt.
5- Anti-inflammatories help the injured runner control excessive inflammation and speed up their return to regular activity more quickly, with no negative impact on tissue.
Inflammation is a natural and necessary response to all tissue damage induced by trauma or overuse. Although we tend to feel better with anti-inflammatory use, studies have demonstrated that these medications can prevent proper healing of tissues, making them more vulnerable in the medium term.
As you can see, it’s not always the best idea to assume what others are saying is correct. If you have any questions or are unsure about the information you hear, it is always best to consult a regulated healthcare professional to receive the proper information and make an informed decision.