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January 21, 2010

The Gospel of Not Running

I just don't get it. Why do so many equate "getting in shape" with jogging? Plodding along for 30 to 60 minutes...thump thump thump, three or more days per week?

Many come into the clinic, having sustained injuries from their most well intentioned health and fitness efforts. They begin jogging or attempt to increase their mileage when a nagging pain pops up. They push through it because no pain no gain, and they gain a significant injury.

I can see this as a problem if you like running. If that's your chosen sport or the one thing that you really enjoy, then yes, you should be disappointed when you can't do what you love. And you should make time and energy to incorporate corrective range of motion and strengthening exercises to get you back on track.

But this article is not for you. This one is dedicated to all those of you who think jogging is a safe way to correct the problem of being overweight; to those who think it's the most effective tool for getting in shape; to those who think it's a great way to increase athletecism...BUT HATE TO JOG...

Have I got news for you!

First, you are sorely mistaken. Second - you don't HAVE to jog. In fact, I would often advise you against it.

With distance running, the body will automatically seek the greatest "running economy" which necessarily translates into the least amount of muscle effort to maintain a given pace. Less muscle effort means lots of plodding along, pounding on the joints, sometimes hours at a time. Anything above "ideal" body weight magnifies ground reaction forces at least ten-fold, which is good for keeping PTs and orthopedic surgeons in business.

Or let's say you're feeling and seeing the effects of getting a little older, sitting at a computer or in the car all the time. Maybe your joints are tight and other areas not so tight. When you take a body with weak muscles and poor range of motion and apply extended periods of repetitive pounding over a small range of motion (as occurs with jogging), the new heights of pain you achieve is definitely not gain.

Distance running can actually be a detriment to peak performance. Which do you imagine correlates well with a 90 mph fastball - an explosive vertical leap or a high aerobic capacity? Has any young prospect ever jogged his or her way to 10 or 20 pounds of lean muscle gain? More evidence is beginning to show that concurrent endurance training mutes the bodies best adaptive response to strength and power training.

Train smart. If you don't believe that you can attain excellent fitness without jogging, I can convince/show you otherwise. I may have you do specefic stretching and resistance exercise, intervals on a bike and maximal sprints if your sport involves sprinting.

Condition your body to jog if you WANT to jog. But you don't have to.


lesley said...

So why do you torture your patients on the treadmill, bob?!
gratefully, lesley

Matt said...

Amen. Amen. I will post this to my facebook status.

Bob Gorinski said...

your achilleses were part of the inspiration for the writing!

Uhh...we had to test it, ya know.

lesley said...

Do you mean that my jogging on the treadmill inspired the "plodding along" description, cuz thats how I feel like I run...plod plod plod. Well so far so good. Sunny here in Florida. Did my stretches by the pool as there is no swimming, or should I say swimsuiting with these mech. bull bruises. Some times I feel my life is a sitcom. Anywho, next tuesday is the day I will test my achilles and Gent will test his entire left forelimb post gate wrestling. Until then, lots of stretching, but honestly NO JOGGING! HA!