Running Myth 2 – Does Cross-Training Prevent Running Injuries?

MYTH

It is better to cross­-train than to run six times per week.

REALITY

No studies have managed to quantify the optimal frequency of training with the purpose to prevent running injuries.

ELABORATION

As per our first post regarding the cause of running injuries, it comes down to tissue adaptation. You get good at what you do and your body adapts to the type of stimulation it is given. The most common running injuries are all weight­bearing pathologies involving low­ and medium metabolism tissues;

● Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee)

● Achilles tendinopathy

● Medial tibial stress syndrome (periostitis, or shin splints)

● Patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee)

● Plantar fasciopathy

● Stress fractures

Low­ and medium metabolism tissues are better adapted to less intense, but repeated stress. For this specific reason it is a better choice to run daily instead of distributing the same training volume over fewer days. Furthermore, by running more often you are improving your running technique, which equals safer running.

IMPLEMENTATION

If you run less than four times per week, it would be wise of you to add a couple of shorter sessions. An easy progression could be to go for a nice walk and add 10-­20 min of jogging to it. I tend to sneak my extra sessions in by jogging a few extra blocks to get to a bootcamp­ or yoga class. Warmed up and ready to go!

SHOULD YOU CROSS-TRAIN?

If you have an injury and are advised to reduce the mechanical stress on your tissues for a time – sure! If you are an injury free, healthy individual and you want to run, it is a smarter choice to go running. For example; swimming and cycling both have positive cardiovascular effects, but they are missing the adequate mechanical stress needed to adapt your body to running.

SHOULD YOU RUN AND RUN ONLY?

Wait! I am not saying that running is the only thing you can, or should do from this day on. I am saying that if you want to reduce your risk of a running injury, you need to get your running in regardless of your other training commitments. For example; if you are a triathlete, you need to get an adequate amount of running in regardless of your swimming and cycling schedule. It makes for a great number of hours of training per week, but nothing ever comes for free and that is how it goes.

If you are someone who complements running with say yoga or strength training, you can use your run of the day as a warm-up or cool-down.

BOTTOM LINE

If you want to run and reduce your risk of injury, ­you need to get on with that running. As always; safe progression of your running frequency, duration and intensity is key in injury prevention.

Stay tuned for #TeamJina’s next post by @jeanlewispt next Tuesday where she will discuss the confusing and exciting topic of running shoes.

For more Physio related information, stay updated by following @jeanlewispt and @linaenglundpt on Twitter.

Reference: “New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries” – Blaise Dubois BScPT

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