The Science of Injury Invariability

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

In my last article, I described how rotating multiple shoes and engaging in cross-training activities are both strategies that reduce your risk of injury, based on increasing the variability in the loads being applied to your body. Here, we’ll continue this discussion and give you some strategies to help reduce your injury risk based on biomechanical research.

My research group first introduced the concept of stride-to-stride variability as an indicator of a running injury nearly 10 years ago. We showed that when a runner has reduced gluteus medius muscle strength (the muscles on the side of your hip), your knee is not properly controlled when you run. Subsequently, the weakness leads to increased variability and an unpredictable running pattern. For example, the knee might slightly collapse outwards during one footfall and inwards for the next. However, once those muscles get stronger, a more predictable pattern and reduction in stride-to-stride variability occurs, so your body knows what to expect during the next footfall. Continue reading “The Science of Injury Invariability”

The Science of Injury Prevention

with Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

I’m always happy to see injury prevention research being published, and I thought I’d synthesize some of the more recent findings into practical tips for you.

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to figure out the best injury prevention strategies. Twenty-five different research studies were selected, which  resulted in the analysis of 26,610 athletes who sustained 3464 injuries. A surprising discovery in the data was that stretching did not show any protective effect, regardless of whether the stretching was performed before or after exercise. On the other hand, strength training was protective and reduced sports injuries by about one-third. These authors went further and suggested that overuse injuries, such as those experienced by runners, could be reduced by almost half if a regular strength training program was combined with some type of cross-training. Continue reading “The Science of Injury Prevention”

The Science of Massage Therapy

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

Massage therapists have been a part of the sports medicine team for decades, and there’s some solid research out there that demonstrates how massage can help prevent injuries and aid post-run recovery. The fundamental theory behind massage therapy is that the manipulation of different layers of muscle and connective tissue has two main effects: first, improving muscle function; and second, assisting with muscle recovery and rehabilitation. Continue reading “The Science of Massage Therapy”

The Science of Hamstring Injuries

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

The hamstring injuries of high-profile athletes received a lot of attention at last year’s World Track and Field Championships in London. While these injuries were related to sprinting, the mechanics of the injury itself are quite similar to distance running. Moreover, hamstring strains are one of the top 10 injuries for distance runners, especially for recreational runners.

At the Worlds, Andre De Grasse was aiming for a chance to dethrone Jamaica’s Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world. But the day before the start of the 100-metre competition, the Canadian sprinter announced that a hamstring tear was forcing him to withdraw. A few days later, Bolt had his own dramatic hamstring injury in what was likely his final race. During his leg of the 4×100-metre relay, the Olympic champion pulled his hamstring muscle. So, what is science behind a hamstring strain? Continue reading “The Science of Hamstring Injuries”

Choosing the Right Shoe

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

You may already be aware that there are three categories of running footwear: neutral, stability, and motion control. A neutral running shoe is designed to provide cushioning and less foot control as compared to its motion control counterpart. A stability shoe has some component of pronation control material, which is generally placed near the middle or arch of the shoe. A motion control shoe typically provides a significant amount of pronation control and often has some type of non-deformable material, such as a plastic plug, placed on the outer rear edge of the shoe. This is all good to know, but what is the science behind fitting a runner with the proper shoe? Continue reading “Choosing the Right Shoe”

The Science of Muscle Strengthening

by Dr Reed Ferber, Ph. D. CAT(C)

Dating back to 2005, research from our laboratory and others from around the world has focused on how improving muscle strength can help runners. For example, we published a study on runners with patellofemoral pain (PFP), often called “runner’s knee” and identified by pain under the kneecap. The runners in the study performed two simple hip-muscle strengthening exercises every day for three weeks. At the end of the three-week program, runners had a 43% reduction in pain and a 30% increase in muscle strength. In such a short period of time, improvements in strength are largely attributable to changes in neuromuscular activation of muscles and not to changes in muscle fibre composition. In other words, the nervous system was better activated and caused more muscle fibres to contract, but there were no changes to the muscle composition itself. Continue reading “The Science of Muscle Strengthening”

Wearable Technology

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

It has been reported that 88% of runners who participated in official road races in the last two years have used wearable technology and/or running-related apps for training optimization and distance recording.Interestingly, over half of all runners who use a wearable sensor reported “mileage tracking” and “injury prevention” as the top two main reasons why they had such devices. In fact, for both 2016 and 2017, wearable technology was the number one worldwide fitness trend. Devices such as basic activity trackers, smartwatches with heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices are found on nearly every runner. Continue reading “Wearable Technology”

Movement Mapping

by Dr. Reed Ferber, Ph.D. CAT(C)

“Running safety is an example of an important topic for women in particular,” says Marion Hart, the For Women Only training program instructor at Winnipeg’s Regent Avenue store. “We talk about ways to ‘run smart’, such as letting someone know when and where you’re running, carrying a phone and identification with you, and not running alone at night.” Continue reading “Movement Mapping”