10 Research-Proven Running Facts
Arm yourself with these important facts to manage your current injuries, and prevent them from coming back.
Want the short and sweet version? Scroll to the bottom for our handy infographic!
1. 70% of injuries occur at or below the knee.
Yep – that nagging knee pain you can’t seem to get rid of? There’s a good chance 6 of your 10 running friends have also experienced something similar. In other words, knee issues like ITB syndrome and knee tracking issues are the top culprits of runners, particularly those with less than two years of experience.
2. The top 5 injuries are: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Achilles Tendinopathy, ITB Syndrome, Shin Splints, and Hamstring Tendinopathy.
These injuries are all common as they involve structures and tissues that require plenty of time to adapt and change to keep up with the demands of running.
As a general guide, a brand-new runner should give themselves 8-12 weeks to reach 5k non-stop. But most people tend to do too much too soon – an invitation for injury. So, slow down and remember that a runner’s greatest strength is patience. We also suggest avoiding running back-to-back days for about 6-8 weeks, or until you’ve started to build some base fitness.
Looking for help with putting together a plan to get back to running after injury? Learn about our coaching programs.
3. 28% of running injuries are re-injuries, making “history of injury” a very high predictor of injury.
Unfortunately, once something is injured, the body is left with two options: keep using the injured (and likely weakened) part and re-injure it, or compensate by using something else. However, neither of these options are great. Above all, the best solution is to first gain a full understanding of what your injury is, and then treat it as well as contributing movement patterns, strengths, and weaknesses that have relationships with the injury at hand.
Most importantly, it’s important to see a practitioner with experience in running injuries and who knows which factors are most important. Book with one of our experienced team members here.
4. Myth: Higher mileage does not necessarily correlate with greater risk of injury.
Would you believe that running 4-5 times per week is actually associated with lower injury risk than running 1-2 times per week?
Although this may seem counterintuitive, remember that every time you go for a run, small breakdowns in muscles and tissues occur. Then they heal over a couple of days and become stronger than they were, just like when you go to the gym. Then we run again, and you again build more strength than your previous workout. But by waiting too long between runs, the body will simply drop back down to baseline status, and your running strength remains flatlined. If you continue to run longer or harder only intermittently and your body isn’t ready, injury commonly follows.
5. More negative mental health scores are correlated with an increased risk of injury.
Have you ever had a really stressful few weeks, followed by an injury? It’s not in your head. Research has shown that the adage of mind and body working together is true – folks who experience more depression and/or anxiety are at greater risk of injury and also tend to take longer to heal. Considering that many of us run for mental health reasons, this is a good fact to keep in mind. So if you aren’t having a good day, cut yourself some slack and consider an easier, fun run as opposed to hitting steep hills.
In addition to being a great recovery tool, massage therapy can do wonders for stress management. Click here to learn about how we can help.
6. The most popular race globally is the 5k, followed by the half marathon.
Short and sweet wins the race! It turns out most of us are totally fine to kick it for a 5 km route. Yet despite being less popular, full marathons still had 1.1 million participants in 2020.
7. 6 bpm is the most ideal increase to your natural cadence to maximize your running economy and decrease loading forces. The most ideal running cadence to avoid injury is ~165 bpm+.
You may be familiar with the idea that running at 180 bpm or steps per minute is the “ideal running cadence”. Touted by running guru Jack Daniels, many runners have been given this advice. However, research over recent years has found that a) people are built in different shapes, sizes, and with different body ratios and b) people develop a natural cadence as they train that works well for them.
Recent literature has found that if someone is looking to improve their running efficiency, the ideal number to increase cadence by is whatever you are already comfortably doing, plus 6.
In addition, the cadence of 165 bpm or more does seem to correlate with both improved performance and decreased injury risk. Therefore, you should look to try to reach 165 bpm first, and then 6 bpm past that to truly lock in your race pace. We discuss our favourite running metrics in this blog.
8. A religious stretching routine does not decrease risk of injury.
We’re sorry to say, but people who stretch every single day are unfortunately just as vulnerable as the rest of us slackers! However, there is one caveat – if you are currently injured and the injury is related to a muscle that is tight (for example, often plantar fasciitis may result from tight calves), then stretching may help you to feel better.
The caveat to the caveat? Tight muscles are quite often weak muscles. So, in addition to stretching, you’ll need to strengthen, too.
9. The average injury will take 8-16 weeks to heal.
Here’s the thing. You can probably get back to 100% in 8 weeks or less if when you feel pain, you STOP. In addition, you’ll need to give yourself 10-14 days off to let inflammation settle. Do not “run through the problem” – it will NOT get better with more running, because that’s what caused it in the first place! The longer you’ve been pushing through an issue, the longer it will take to get better.
It isn’t uncommon for plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinopathy to take 6-12 months to fully heal. And that’s just how it is. There are no magic tricks, no sorcery, no pills, or no magic IG accounts to follow that will help the body to heal any faster than it’s capable of. What you can do is determine what the problem is, how to get it better, and what to do about it. And that’s what you’ll need to do.
10. Fun Fact: In 2021 alone, The Running Physio had 13,440 injuries come through our doors.
So chances are, we’ve seen your problem before!
Written by Lauren Roberts, PT, infographic copyright of The Running Physio Inc., 2022.