This may seem like an unusual question to ask, but it is one that should be asked because the answer opens up a whole lot of possibilities about how we can run injury free. Most people might respond that they “lack fitness” or “it’s an old injury”. The answer simply is load versus tissue capacity, with the load being the amount of force that passes through your body when you run, tissue capacity the resilience and strength of your tissues such as muscle, tendon, joint structures etc.
When we run, every time a foot is in contact with the ground a certain amount of force travels up the body from the foot, through the leg and into the body. The amount of load varies and is naturally dependent on body weight but more importantly your running style or gait. Aspects of gait that influence this load are things like ground contact time, the degree of over striding, posture and alignment. All factors that can be modified with the right knowledge and guidance. For example, many people can reduce load through their bodies by adjusting their cadence by only five percent to achieve a reduction of load passing through the feet by up to 565 times their body weight per mile! Do the math on your own runs!
With regards to tissue capacity, this is another factor that should be given serious consideration. The problem is that most people feel that they are running to get fit, rather than getting fit to run. These days with our sedentary lives our tissues just simply don’t have the capacity, but they certainly have the potential!
Appropriate conditioning of the joints and tissues through a proper conditioning and warm up routine dramatically improves our tissue capacity to absorb the many tons of force that pass through our body each run. And I am not talking about a few stretches if the hamstrings, hip flexors and calves, these are an utter waste of time. With the incidence of injury so high in running, it is about time we look into what variables we can change in our training to reduce the chances of injury.