Preconditioning Doesn’t Prevent Running Injuries

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This piece first appeared in the June issue of Competitor Magazine.

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

Some people believe that every running injury is the result of some mistake, like doing too much too soon. Others believe that injuries are largely unavoidable—they’re just part of the sport.

A trio of new studies lends support to the notion that injuries just happen. A team of Dutch researchers recently tackled the “too much too soon” theory by comparing injury rates in two large groups of novice female runners training for a four-mile running event.

One group engaged in a four-week preconditioning program designed to prepare their bodies for the stress of the nine-week running program to follow. The second group was thrown straight into the nine-week running program. Injury rates were the same in the two groups.

In a recent review of previous studies on running injuries, Brazilian researchers looked for various associations between skeletal alignment and injury risk. They found that runners with broad hips, leg-length discrepancies and high and low heel arches face a higher risk of developing overuse injuries.

Finally, the same group of Dutch scientists who looked at the effects of a preconditioning program on novice runners also tracked body weight against injury risk and found that overweight runners were much more likely to get hurt. This finding suggests that overweight individuals should lose weight through other forms of exercise before they start running.


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