Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why are you still jogging???

I've put in some time in this profession. At least10,000 hours.  I've been working with people in the fitness, strength and conditioning industry for 13 years.  I've played college sports and I've coached high school sports.  I've worked with people of all ages with a variety of goals.  One thing that is almost 100% constant, most joggers = terrible movement patterns and knee and or back pain.

When it comes to fundamentals of movement, squatting and lunging should be performed without pain and hopefully without much difficulty.  When movement patterns deviate from there proper form, pain can occur in the knees and the lower back, most commonly.  Through the assessment/screening process most of the "joggers" I've worked with have had difficulty performing a door way squat test and lack flexibility during a static hip flexor stretch (see above).

While performing a lunge, whether forward or backward,  I've noticed that most "joggers" have an extreme  forward lean, lack stability and balance, and  have improper body alignment.  A lateral lunge is even more difficult for my distance running clients.  One thing that I've concluded is that telling a client to stop a form of exercise makes them a little offended.  To offset a awkward conversation I try to correct these problems by performing a dynamic warm-up, PNF stretching, and performing basic exercise progressions (check out: Gray Cook-Athletic Body in Balance).

Once some of these movement problems are corrected I try to persuade these clients to attempt different forms of "cardio" or interval training.  Some are enthusiastic to give sprinting, metabolic circuits, and sled work a try.  They usually move better, get stronger, and remain injury and pain free.  The others, the "joggers" usually have a recurrence of pain/injury, don't improve strength, and have to start over with general corrective exercises.  Everyone has a choice of what they do and some people enjoy running to the point of living in some form of discomfort.

Another reason that "joggers" have movement/injury issues is because of improper running form.  I've developed a habit out of watching people jog outside and on the treadmill and monitoring their foot position, forward lean, and shoulder movement.  Most of the people I see running appear to be "out of shape" and carrying a little too much weight.  Because of this their form is horrible. To be honest, most of them look like they are trying to catch their breath and avoid having a heart attack, their form is the last thing on their mind. 

Most "joggers" don't realize around 1,500 foot contacts with the ground takes place while running a mile.  If you are overweight and running with improper form the next joint above your ankle (mobility) is your knee (stability) and that is where a lot of the pounding will be absorbed.  Some of the time knee pain can be caused a tight IT band other times it is a result of trauma usually caused by constant pounding on a hard surface. Mike Boyle has been discussing this issue for years and more fitness/strength professionals are extending their knowledge on the subject. 

Knowledge of functional anatomy, self-myofacial release techniques, and proper corrective exercise can "fix" certain aliments that "joggers" encounter.  I hate to say there is a BAD form of exercise, but in reality any form of exercise performed improperly is BAD .

From a personal standpoint, I used to "jog" a lot.  I ran several miles per week in the attempt to get leaner and in better shape.  The results were not impressive by any means.  I actually got weaker and my body composition remained the same if not worse because my eating was not as "healthy" as it should have been.  I developed some knee and back pain which I just ignored.

I finally woke up a couple years ago and started to incorporate sprinting, jump rope, and sled work in my conditioning.  My strength started to increase, I got leaner, and amazingly I was pain free.  If you are a runner, I'm not telling you to stop.  Take the proper precautions such as stretching and focusing on proper mechanics.  Also, ask yourself why you are "jogging"?   If the reason is to lose weight, your diet should take precedence.

If you are not performing some form of resistance training and you want to improve your physical conditioning, you are missing the boat entirely.  There are tons of people that can run a marathon and are still considered obese, and there are a lot of strong people that can't run 400 yards.  My advice, find a  balance. Get strong, get in better condition, but "jogging" to get there isn't necessary.


Anonymous said...

Hello. Came across the blog inadvertently. Interesting read. Seems like you've got a lot of good information. Would like to see you address other physical activities such as swimming, tennis, racquetball, etc., and how those can be incorporated into one's routine. I'd also like to know if yu've tried P90X and if so, whether you have an opinion on it. Finally, I like to do curls in the squat rack and I've found it to be a perfectly acceptable practice. Would like you to respond to that. Thanks.

Damon Brobst CSCS said...

I think the sports you mentioned are good because your body moves in different planes of motion during the racquet sports and swimming is easy on the joints. I have not tried P90X, it does not suit my goals as far as "strength" is concerned. check out this review of P90X-

I like to squat, deadlift, bench, and clean "heavier" weights. I do my conditioning sprinting, running, hills and pulling a weighted sled. As far as curling in the squat rack it is really annoying because the weight used on the curl you can pick up from the floor. The weight used on an acceptable squat should be taken from the rack. Honestly, 95% of people in gyms don't squat low enough or heavy enough anyway!