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The inconvenient truth about running

Posted on 3/16/2020 to GLoves off
The inconvenient truth about running

Running for exercise is an idiotic sport far more dangerous than target shooting.  Running used to be a practical solution to hunting for food, or self preservation by running away from a threat.  Guns used to be a practical solution to hunting and self self preservation as well.  While target shooting still seems like a practical and entertaining activity, running seems outright illogical in the day of supermarkets and guns. 

Why is running so foolish?  Because it's the source of millions of personal injuries.  If as many people were injured by guns as by running, there would be an uprising.   But to the contrary, Nike, New Balance, Books, and others played a major role in starting this fad which later gained the full support of medical professionals and health experts as they all continue to promote this injury prone, self-torturing sport. 

Not only did Nike promote running but the company created a perfect storm. There were less injuries in sports by people wearing the old Chuck Taylor High Tops than Nike Air.  The reason quoted in a 2001 Australian study of 10,000 basketball players sited among other factors the Nike Air caused a 4.3 times higher probability of an ankle injury.  Extra cushioning causes instability of the feet. 

While basketball requires jumping and fast turns, running still requires good balance and proper weight bearing mechanics.  As shoe companies quietly realized that extra cushioning is destabilizing, they have developed the minimalist shoe which is nothing more than a modern version of the Chuck Taylor flat bottom shoes but lighter weight.  But back to running and why for most people, it is an outright dangerous form of cardiovascular exercise.

Most people run on pavement

What do most runners have in common?  They run on paved flat surfaces.  Unfortunately, our feet are incompatible with paved roads and smooth floors. That includes the inside of your shoes.  Barefoot running on pavement is even worse and minimalist shoes are of no help.  Through glorifying ads the public fell for it like they fell for air shoes and podiatrists happily make a fortune on custom orthotics that in many cases make this problem worse.

 feet are only compatible with natural surfaces
Darker shades of red indicates higher pressure. Yellow and green, lighter pressure.

It is easy to demonstrate how most people when walking on a flat surface, stop using their first metatarsal to facilitate a strong balanced push off.  Today with the availability of in-shoe pressure sensing, it turns out most people heap most of their weight on the second metatarsal.  Dr. Janet Travell who authored the "bible" on myofascial disease nearly 40 years ago, likened not being weight bearing on the first, to walking on ice skates with the weight transferring from the heel to the second metatarsal.  Depending on foot structure and neuromuscular compensation patterns, some people will simply follow their structure, roll their ankles in and dramatically overpronate while the majority finds this uncomfortable and try to use their muscles to maintain a better foot posture.  They use their muscles trying to supinate their feet and become the most frequent victims of twisted ankles.  Now put these people who are already unstable in over cushioned shoes, encourage them to run for charity, and you have a personal disaster waiting to happen. Next time you spot a runner, take a closer look.  The latter person who try to compensate and supinate their feet may look smoother and faster compared to the over pronator who often looks like an eggbeater struggling to make headway, but they are both headed for expensive injuries.  

 What injuries do runner suffer. 

This depends a lot on their personal mechanics, shoe and insole choices.  People that freely over-pronate usually will have to quit as their knees start to hurt from fracturing their knee meniscus and injured ligaments to the knee cap not tracking properly and Iliotibial band syndrome. Foot pain, especially Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) is common. Fortunately most of these folks give up running before severely injuring, but even walking with this disability, over time, unless corrected, develops into a repetitive motion injury.  Unfortunately, the people who try to compensate by supinating their feet, we call them Bracers because brace against over pronation, are stubborn enough to run through the pain.  Their running style is characterized by a hard heel strike, hence the development of midfoot running which is another feckless fad.  Depending on the strength of their muscular bracing, these runners, if reasonably successful in supinating their feet, will discover Morton’s neuroma, hammer toes, metatarsalgia, twisted ankles, shin splints, plantar fasciitis to name a few in addition to always having tight muscles, especially calves, but often throughout their bodies.  But, come hell or high water, the Bracers will keep running while trying every pair of shoes they can find, OTC Insoles, custom orthotics, and other podiatric procedures involving needles and knives. 

This is when running becomes really sick.  What else could you call a person that knowingly inflicts pain and injuries on themselves.  So our advice is save running for an emergency like a fire.  Buy a gun and learn to use if you need self defense, and go swimming or lift weights for cardio exercise.  Learning to shoot is lot more fun and safer!