What do we actually KNOW about running injuries?
I’m a couple of weeks behind the curve on this, but I just wanted to highlight an excellent post by Pete Larson of Runblogger. He recently attended a conference/course on running injuries taught primarily by Blaise Dubois, and took the opportunity to write up a succinct list of 16 things we know about running injuries, ranging from the very basic to the fairly technical.
Part of the reason I liked it so much was that it was very balanced — not promoting big shoes, little shoes, or no shoes as the panacea that will cure everything. In fact, his fourth point is:
Most running injuries are overuse injuries that can be attributed to stubborn and obsessive runners doing too much too soon. In doing this, runners exceed their body’s stress threshold and something gives. The end result is an injury.
Just for kicks, though, I’ll quibble with one point. He writes:
One of the things that also came through loud and clear is that barefoot running is our default. It is how we evolved, and modern shoes are a change from that default. Thus, the burden of proof should be to prove that we are better off running in big, bulky shoes. People often seem to think that the notion that we should run in a way that emulates the barefoot gait is radical (whether actually barefoot or in minimal shoes), but in reality it’s what our species has done for nearly 2 million years prior to about 1970.
I understand the point, of course. But let me make a competing point: in the U.S. alone, according to Running USA, there were 25.559 million people who ran at least 50 times in 2009. Some 10.29 million of them finished a road race. They bought a total of 39.76 million pairs of running shoes. How many of those people went barefoot, or in minimalist shoes? I really don’t know — I wish I had the data. But I think it’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of people who have grown up in a modern, western, convenience-filled, concrete-covered society and have taken up running without having relied on it as a primary form of transport throughout their childhood have done so wearing conventional running shoes. Does that mean barefooting or minimalism or forefoot striking is bad? Definitely not. But since we don’t have any answers yet, let’s be circumspect about applying the “burden of proof.”
Anyway, I’m just quibbling here. Pete’s post is great, and a must-read for anyone interested in the topic!