The scourge of every serious and recreational runner is injury that prevents them from doing what they enjoy, which is running.
Running injuries are usually a result of repetitive stress or put another way the inability of the body to adapt to the repetitive impact of running. The statistics show that 50 per cent of runners are injured every year. The prevalence of injuries are higher in industrialised countries, and runners are more injured now than ever before. Despite the technology built into the modern running shoe, there has been no evidence that it has had any affect on reducing running injuries.
Possibly the answer to solving the problem of running injuries is to look at the way in which running should be performed. Research has shown that the users of the modern cushioned running shoe, 80 per cent land on their heel known and are known as heel strikers. It is interesting to note that currently there is no single distance record held in any event by a heel striker. They all land on the front of the foot, known as forefoot strikers. As the experts suggest that landing impact force is the likely cause of most running injuries, then it is reasonable to say that by lowering the impact force will likely lower the injury rate.
Studies of peak impact force at foot strike shows that heel striking has a higher impact force than forefoot strikers. Forefoot strikers have increased compliance in their legs and decreased loading rates. There is no generation of an impact peak in forefoot runners as the foot tends to land directly underneath the runner, whereas in heel strikers the foot lands forward of the runner causing a braking effect, and therefore a higher impact force.
Good runners have two principles in common. Firstly they don’t lean forward and the second is that they have high stride frequency known as cadence. Elite runners have a cadence of 170-180 strides a minute because it is more economical, makes the leg more compliant and prevents overstriding.
The combination of forefoot running, high cadence and not leaning forward maybe the answer to preventing stress injuries caused by running. However before embarking on becoming a forefoot runner conditioning of the calf muscle complex is necessary to prevent over straining of the calf. At Corio Bay Health Group there are accredited physiotherapists with the international body The Running Clinic that can provide information regarding running technique.