Top Five Running Myths Busted

With the Dublin City Marathon upon us and Triathlon Season Coming to a close – we can’t help but notice more and more clients descending into Platinum Pilates & Platinum Physio carrying running related injuries – we chatted to William Byrne our Runity Coach & Ben Doyle our Chartered Physiotherapist and they have just busted the Top Five Running Myths doing the rounds this summer.

Running is bad for your knees – is the equivalent of, a bird saying, flying is bad for his wings

Homosapiens survived because they moved into the upright position to free up their hands. There are dozens of characteristics that make us destined to both walk & run.

If running hurts your knees its more likely that you have a flawed movement pattern and your biomechanics & kinetic transfer of forces & energy are dysfunctional – simplified – the way you absorb ground force reaction into your feet and how this is transferred upwards is out of sync with your original design and make up. Maybe its time to look at your movement patterns & your dynamic posture before you go blaming running for your creaky knees.

Walking is better for your joints than running

The biomechanics & kinematic rules of walking and running are completely different – running is not a fast version of walking – in fact when you compare energy output, ground force reaction, foot strike and breaking force – you will see they are as different as night and day.

In simple terms – walking is a form of controlled falling or an inverted pendulum and so to walk means you are constantly decelerating to control the ground force reaction with always heel striking with the knee mainly extended.

In the case of running which is an elastic system we strike the ground with the forefoot or heel or even both, the force of gravity is absorbed in our tendons in the form of elastic energy – the tendons release the energy back into potential energy to propel us forward onto the next leg. Almost like a recycling system – making it more efficient in terms of force absorption.

You need an expensive running shoe to reduce injury

This is a big misconception. Shoe manufactures are quick to point out how many injuries there are in running, things like (feet, toes, ankles, calves, knees etc…) and you will hear things like, HIGH impact on the ground etc….

Whilst yes, we are seeing many ‘running’ related injuries, a major reason is not the shoe you wear but, the overuse and overloading of your tissues.

If you are poorly conditioned your tissues will overload and most likely your body will develop a faulty running pattern leading to injury. The truth is you’ll have to search very hard to find solid scientific studies showing the use of footwear and the reduction of injuries.

In fact there are multiple studies showing that cushioned shoes had NO reduction in running injuries.

The key here is to find a balance between cushioning and minimalist shoe selection and remember that the shoe should not influence the running technique of the runner. Your aim should be to restore the movement pattern that is close to our original design and not rely on a shoe which is what we would call an extrinsic modifier – which brings us nicely on to our fourth myth…


Lifting weights will make you a better runner

We have to start thinking differently with the practice of running – most people think they have to run to get into shape, but what science tells us is that to run properly, it is necessary to be in sufficient physical shape – more specifically we have to have covered the fundamental demands running places on the body, without them our risk of injury increases and our chances of reaching our goals diminishes.

  • Pain-free running has postural & functional needs.
  • Our sagittal stability is so crucial, the second is our lateral stability.
  • Running is an activity performed on one foot so our ability to control motion in the frontal plane is crucial.
  • The third is our bodies ability to control rotation again since we are on one foot and our body is a system of spirals.
  • The fourth is our ability to maintain the correct thoracic extension.
  • Finally we have to have good hip condition to generate force & good feet condition with both stability & mobility to be able to send information to the brain about terrain and to execute good technique.

If you don’t possess these qualities and you start loading the system with weights, kettles bells and other forces – your chances of pain free running become limited.
But of course when you have finely tuned motor control then, maybe consider hitting the weights rack!

We were not designed to run long distance

Of course if your physical condition doesn’t tick the boxes required to start running in the first place, the thoughts of running long distance might seem alien to you.
But the characteristics of our genetic make up would have us believe that in fact we are designed for long distance. The structure & complex dynamics of our plantar facia & Achilles Tendon which is able to recycle 30% of the energy created in running shows that we can be really efficient in running long distance.

A horse would be unable to finish a marathon on a hot day in two hours as a human can do. The human being arrived here because of its ability to be able to run long distance.
If we take the Nuchal Ligament, which is primarily designed to control inertia at the speed of running and has little use during walking. This dense band of connective tissue would not be needed if we just walked.

Another very interesting example is the change in our Glute Maximus. The GM only makes sense to control loads similar to those in running.