Here we will discuss some running myths that you may have heard often and debunk them for you. We’ll take a look at just 3 of of them and give you the cold hard truth.
Many people, runners and non-runners, would all love to give their opinion on running!! There were always many varying different opinions on this topic. Even reading best-selling books, opinions often differ from person to person.
What is essential is following an evidence-based practice. Essentially it’s the one thing that bought down the famed Power Balance band, which you can read about here. It’s the thing that helps us make educated decisions from the intelligent people who have completed the research before us!!
Today, as you may have guessed, I want to debunk a few myths within society about running. The myth’s that I want to debunk are:
- Running gives you arthritis.
- Barefoot running is the best.
- Running puts my hips out!
Running Myths #1 – Running gives you arthritis
We have all heard it at least once. Running gives you arthritis!! We know that medical research has come a long way over the years. Today through research, we know a lot more about the human body and the progression of its degeneration!
Running and knees and hips have always had a lousy association over the years. However, today we have a lot of evidence to come out in support of recreational running! Let’s have a look at some of the research articles in brief supporting recreational running and arthritis.
Research – Running and Arthritis
- Low prevalence of hip and knee arthritis in active marathon runners. This was a study of active marathon runners, a group of 675 in the US, to compare their statistics to the national health centre for statistics. This study looked at runners who had run five marathons or more and had a broad range of running history over 19 years or more. This study found that this group of runners had a lower average of arthritis compared to the general US population.
- Effects of running and walking on Osteoarthritis and knee and hip replacement risk. This study looked at running, walking and other exercise. Importantly, this study compared running, walking, and other exercise and looked at its relationship with osteoarthritis and hip replacements. There were over 70,000 runners and active people exercising included in this. The results from this study found that other exercise increased the risk of OA. However, running and the fact that runners have a lower BMI actually reduced this risk of OA and hip replacements.
Running Myths #2 – Barefoot Running is the best!
This topic is a little less cut and dried than running gives you arthritis. Since the famous novel ‘Born to Run’ there has been a significant shift to the barefoot movement. You can read an article about heel-toe drop on our website (found here). There is a vast range of barefoot shoes on the market because of this book, and now many of them can be found on shoe shop walls1
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed research on barefoot running versus shod running. The lack of available long term studies was a limiting factor in this review. It has been suggested that there are a few reasons for the limited research, which are:
- The complex reasons for injury. Injuries are rarely the result of a single factor. The complex array of the physiological and biomechanical changes that barefoot running brings is hard to formulate a study or set to articulate.
- The large variability of mechanics within individuals and the translation between shod and barefoot running biomechanics.
- The difference in the research design, such as running on the ground compared to the treadmill. Variable’s of shod and barefoot running and taking account of these conditions.
- The volumes of data gathered that are not analysed correctly lead to false and misleading conclusions.
I think the best evidence for this is to take a real-life example. Abebe Bikila won the marathon at the Olympic Games in the Rome 1960 games, running barefoot with a time of 2:15:12. That is quite fast, even by today’s standards for the marathon!! However, Abebe came back four years later, in 1964, to become the first person to win back Olympic marathon races. The astonishing outcome is this time was he raced with shoes and took 4 minutes off his time!
Running Myths #3 – Running puts my hips out!
This is a lesser known but sometimes used as an excuse that people may have been told by a less than educated health professional. Sometimes people will say this to make themselves feel better that they need to run at all!. It is important to note that hip injuries and soreness are common with running; however, it is extremely unlikely to be caused by hips moving out of position when running. Generally, when you are running, you need good core and gluteal strength to provide stabilisation of the hips and torso so if you have poor core and gluteal strength, your hips do not feel as stable or comfortable when running. So if your hip does feel uncomfortable or unstable when running, it is likely that your core and gluteal strength needs to improve. Most runners find that as you gradually increase core and gluteal strength, they generally notice less hip discomfort when running which also helps improve their performance. That is why many runners spend a lot of time improving their core and gluteal strength as it helps improve hip position and overall performance when running and as well as reduce risk of hip injuries.
In summary, there are a few common running myths that are circulating in public. At Your Podiatry Canberra, we help assess and improve your lower limb running. So if you have any concerns regarding your feet, leg, knees or hips when running, call to make an appointment.
- Ponzio, D., Syed, U., Purcell, K., Cooper, A., Maltenfort, M., Shaner, J., & Chen, A. (2018). Low Prevalence of Hip and Knee Arthritis in Active Marathon Runners. The Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery, 100(2), 131-137. DOI: 10.2106/jbjs.16.01071
- WILLIAMS, P. (2013). Effects of Running and Walking on Osteoarthritis and Hip Replacement Risk. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 45(7), 1292-1297. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3182885f26
- Tam, N., Astephen Wilson, J., Noakes, T., & Tucker, R. (2013). Barefoot running: an evaluation of current hypothesis, future research and clinical applications: Table 1. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, 48(5), 349-355. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092404