Leading researchers agree that it is not easy to determine why some runners seem to get injured more often than others. Usually, it is an increase in distance or an increase in pace that can cause a problem. But how much further and how much faster? Although we have broad guidelines, such as ‘do not increase weekly mileage by more than 10%’, it’s impossible to say specifically when someone will get injured (unless of course they step in a big hole like I did last week).
However, work carried out at the Drayer Physical Therapy Institute at the University of Delaware can give us some clues. Dr Irene Davis, research leader, says that research has identified some biomechanical features in people who tend to suffer from two common injuries. Once these features are known and then corrected, improvements can be made. Runners with knee pain tend to drop their hip on each stride and also have knees that cave inwards on footfall. Similarly, runners who suffer stress fractures of the tibia often show a characteristic gait. They tend to land heavily on the heel. Again, risk can be lessened by measuring impact pressure and making the runner aware of the damage it could be causing.
Of course, these problems will be exaggerated by increased mileage and speed. In particular, running just slightly faster increases impact shock markedly.
Hopefully, in time, we’ll see more studies like this so that we can all learn how to minimise our risk to injury. But, in the meantime, do not underestimate the benefits of having a well-trained therapist look at you run.