Running – Nature’s Exercise
Evidence suggests we evolved to run in order to survive, making running one of the most natural forms of exercise to improve fitness levels. Currently, nearly 20 million Americans run. Of these, 79% experience running related injuries in a given year and 46% of these are recurrences. If running is one of the most natural fitness activities, this rate seems unnaturally high. Not included in these statistics is the number of runners who have given up their sport because they have resigned themselves to the fact that ‘running is not for me’. On the contrary, running is embedded in our genes!
If running is innate, why is there such a high injury rate? Overtraining is certainly one of the most common causes of running injuries. Runners are known for doing too much, too quick, too soon! However, research suggests the most prevalent running injuries are very often related to faulty mechanics. These faulty mechanics cause excessive stresses and strains to the musculoskeletal system, which can result in a variety of running-related injuries. Even if the symptoms have resolved with standard physical therapy, if the underlying mechanics are not addressed, the risk for recurrence is high.
The Spaulding National Running Center, associated with Harvard Medical School, is one of the premier sites in the country for the evaluation, treatment and prevention of running-related, musculoskeletal injuries. The Center is comprised of the Running Injury Clinic, where runners are evaluated and treated, and the Running Research Laboratory, where running biomechanical studies are conducted. The association between these two entities ensures the runner that they are being treated with the most recent, evidence-based approaches.