zondag 7 april 2013

Get lean by running injury-free

Most weight loss programmes include regular cardio training sessions to burn fat. Running is probably to simplest, cheapest and most time-efficient way of cardio training, but too often overly enthusiastic runners - like myself - suffer lower leg or knee injuries within weeks of their running adventure.

Over the past few months I built up from running 30 minutes to running 2 hours, to running not at all, because of medial tibial stress syndrome. The process of getting fit for running again, took me to the physiotherapist, made me buy more "minimalist" running shoes, and had me undergo a 3D gaite and running analysis.

The running analysis suggests that my cadence (160 steps per minute) is too slow and my stride length too long, which results in rear-foot striking, and consequently in overactive tibial muscles on landing and overactive calf muscles on pushing off. Whether or not barefoot running or minimalist shoes help "convert" habitual heel strikers to become mid-foot or fore-foot strikers, is still unclear. Increasing cadence and reduce stride length has been suggested to prevent the most common running injuries, including medial tibial stress syndrome.

To ensure that I run at 175 instead of 160 steps per minute, I downloaded 2 running albums from iTunes, which have exactly 175 beats per minute for all of the tracks. Yesterday I did a first test of this new running style. I ran a very slow 8.6km in 55 minutes. The first 20 minutes were particularly difficult but by the end of the session I felt reasonably comfortable running at the faster-than-normal cadence. And more importantly, my shins and calves stayed pain-free.

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