Have you ever wondered how much stress running puts on your body? According to an article by Constanza Sol, an exercise sciences student at Florida Atlantic University, a 150 lb. runner with an average foot strike per mile count of 400 per foot per mile will endure between 60 and 90 tons of force per foot during a one mile run. That is an astounding statistic! If this person runs just three miles per week for twenty years, from the age of 20 to age 40, that will mean that each foot will endure a minimum of 187,200 tons of force! Can anyone say knee replacement?
There are many ways to reduce the force and stress that is put on your joints and bones. These include wearing good shoes, running on the proper surface, and having the proper running stride. Proper running shoes are essential to the avid runner. It is best to get shoes that are a “custom fit” to your body. Fleet Feet, Famous Footwear, and Sports Authority all will help you find a great shoe for your feet in particular. Asics are very popular for serious runners, but you can find great shoes from many different brands, including Nike, New Balance, and Reebok.
Talk to ten different people and you will get ten different answers about what is the best surface to run on. Some good attributes are being firm but cushioned, being flat, and having good traction. You see many runners on the street rather than the side walk, this is not because they have a death wish, but because concrete is ten times harder than asphalt. Now while asphalt is better than concrete, it is still very hard. Gravel and dirt paths can be much more forgiving on your joints, but there is the risk of it being muddy or an uneven surface. Mud and dry loose sand pose a great risk of twisting or rolling your ankle. So, while they are heaven for being a cushioned surface they are still not what you want to be running on. As far as uneven surfaces this can be a good thing since your foot is not being hit in the same way over and over, it also poses a greater risk of ankle injury and tripping hazards.
Running stride is one of the major keys to being a great runner. It also plays a major role in how much stress is put on your joints and bones. When a person takes a longer stride they are actually increasing the amount of force on each heel strike. Therefore, it is better to take small quick steps. Also, where your foot impacts the ground affects things as well. A person that lands on their heels will be putting the most force into each stride while a person that lands on the ball of their foot cushions the impact more and will be reducing the amount of force. Unfortunately, landing on the ball of the foot can cause problems for your arches. So, there isn’t a definite best way for your foot to land, but changing your style from time to time will cause the least wear and tear on your body.
Running is a great sport and a fun way to exercise. Unfortunately it can wear out our bodies very quickly. Thankfully though, there are many ways to reduce the detrimental effects and to increase the benefits! I hope this overview has been helpful and rewarding to both the experienced and novice runners!
Some helpful articles for you to check:
Ground Rules: Limit the risk of injury and keep your cardio efforts going full steam ahead by picking the right running surface every time.
Impact Forces at the Knee Joint – A Comparative Study on Running Styles.
Running and Joint Health – Asphalt vs. Concrete?