Wow, what a study! I’m sure we all are reading the running journals coming out of Denmark, but in case you missed it, a study was published this past month in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Volume 44, Number 10, October 2014. The title of the study was Excessive Progression in Weekly Running Distance and Risk of Running-Related Injuries: An Association Which Varies According to Type of Injury. The study itself was an explorative, 1 year prospective cohort study.
To save our readers and patient’s time, we will only skim over the high points of the study. The overall sample size was 874 healthy novice runners who started just about any type of running program. The reason for the study is because it is widely accepted that a sudden or drastic increase in running distance is strongly related to injury in runners, however the scientific knowledge used to support this knowledge is somewhat anecdotal and lacks a strong statistical analysis to support those findings.
The runners in the study were supplied with a GPS (Global Positioning System) watch. They used to track when the runners made large increases in distances ran. During the study, a total of 202 runners sustained a running related injury. They researchers noted an increase in the following conditions: Patellofemoral pain, Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB Syndrome), Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splits ARGH!), Glut Medius Injury, Greater Trochanteric Bursitis (Hip Bursitis), unspecificed injury to the tensor fascia latae (ITBand Syndrome, the TFL is the muscle which pulls on the ITBand), and Patellar Tendonopathy. The researchers noted that injuries like those above occurred existed in RUNNERS WHO INCREASED THEIR DISTANCE BY MORE THAN 30% COMPARED WITH THOSE WHO PROGRESSED LESS THAN 10%. These results had a confidence interval of .96 which means there is a good deal of significance when tested statically.
So, how does this affect me? Do I even care about this study? Well, if you are runner, yes you should!
The study proved that NOVICE (First year runners) who progressed their running distance by more than 30% over a 2 week period seem to be more vulnerable to a distance-related running injury. This is when compared to runners to who only increased their distance by 10% over a two week period. Please note that the researchers and authors admit that this was more of an explorative study and that an RCT (Randomized Clinical Trial) needs to be done to validate the assumptions made in this article.
So, Dr. Kemenosh and Associates, what are you trying to tell me about running in regards to this study? Should I stop running?
Absolutely not! The study validates to some extent that old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” when it comes to running and training. We hear novice runners asking us all the time about “running hacks, life hacking, and marathon hacking” and while those systems have helped changed traditional marathon training, we still need to look into issues commonly caused by running too much, too hard, too soon. The take away here is that true novice runners should be advised to progress their weekly distances by less than 30% per week over a two week period, to avoid the types injuries I listed above (which are all very common in runners).
Looking for help with muscle and tendon related issues? Hamstring, calf pain? Sore shoulders or low back pain? Those are the things we most commonly work on here at the office! Give us a call – 856-228-3100