MythBusters: 5 Running Facts or Myths?

Published: Friday, May 8, 2020
Sports Medicine

With the warmer weather, many runners are getting back outside to enjoy the fresh air and getting some much-needed sun. You may be new to running and are exploring the many virtual 5ks that are available, or you may just need a few reminders after the long winter/pandemic season about how to train for a race. Regardless, there are many myths when it comes to running that circulate the internet and we here at NGPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are here to help you separate fact from fiction

Myth #1: Stretching Before Running Will Prevent Injury

Myth! This one seems counterintuitive at first, but the fact is that stretching before running does not prevent injury, it actually can cause injury. Overall stretching is not bad. There are 7 types of stretches and each have their own benefits and risks. They are: Static, Dynamic, Active, Passive, Ballistic, Isometric and Proprioceptive.

So if you don’t stretch before you exercise, when is the best time to stretch? It is best to stretch after your run. You want some tightness and tension in your muscles during your run to help bring your hips, knees, and ankles back to natural positions easier, thus improving your running economy. Otherwise, when you elongate your muscle tendons, it may decrease the stability of your joints, leaving them open to injury. A good warm up is the best way to start a workout/run. Start with a walk, then a light jog, then a run.

How to do effective stretching:

  • Avoid aggressive stretching prior to sports activity.
  • Only stretch warm muscles
  • Ease into each stretch to the point of tension and not pain – don’t bounce or force it
  • Before speed workouts, hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds *After warming the muscles*
  • After a run, hold each stretch for 30 seconds

Myth 2: Running more miles is the true way to train for a race

Myth! Now don’t get me wrong, you will need to run more miles in training in order to be ready for any distance race, but it is not the only way to train for a race. And you do not want to just start running multiple miles right away. Regardless if you are going from couch to 5k or an experienced runner preparing for their next race, you need to slowly work your way up to your intended goal to not put yourself at risk of injury or burnout.

  • Gradually increase your mileage. Increase 10 percent per week.
  • Work up to the desired distance
  • Don’t forget to work in core conditioning and cross training one to two times per week.
  • Make sure you build in rest time to your schedule. You need some downtime from running to allow your muscles to rest.

Myth 3: Everyone should run with the same form

Myth and Fact: Now Dr. Huckle, you seem to be hedging your bets with this answer. While I am not a betting man, you’re right in saying I am. First off it is a myth in the sense that we all have different bodies which means by nature we all have different running styles. You should always run the way that feels best to you. Some people do better with a fore foot strike and some do better with a rear foot strike. However, too much of a fore foot strike can possibly lead to stress fractures and too much of a rear foot strike can possibly lead to Achilles tendinopathy. That means there is usually a common middle ground for all distance runners. One thing to be sure though, if you have repetitive injuries please consult with an orthopedist for treatment or to have you referred to physical therapy to help improve your form

  • Don’t force yourself to run one particular way
  • If you start to have repetitive injuries, pay attention to how you run
  • Make sure you wear comfortable and supportive shoes

Myth 4: Running will lead to arthritis

Myth! Running in and of itself will not cause you to have arthritis. There are many ways you develop arthritis such as but not limited to: previous knee injury such as an ACL tear, family history of arthritis, autoimmune disorders, etc. If you already have arthritis, running on hard, unforgiving surfaces can cause you to have an arthritic flare. But always remember that motion is medicine and running can help an arthritic knee by helping the joint fluid lubricate the articular surfaces of the knee. If you find however that running causes pain, please stop and ice your knee or take an anti-inflammatory. If pain continues, please seek an appointment with a sports medicine physician.

  • Your knee doesn’t have a ‘meter’ attached to it with regards to running
  • Quadriceps, hamstring, and hip strengthening can help prevent knee pain
  • Try running on softer surfaces such as tracks, grass, or treadmills to help prevent arthritic flares from running

Myth 5: Specialized drinks and supplements are the key to improving performance

Myth! While sports drinks can be effective for exercise that last longer than one hour, you can hydrate just as well with water as well as avoid unnecessary caloric intake. Most energy drinks also are full of sugar and caffeine which can increase nervousness and promote dehydration. During a longer race, they may be beneficial due to replenishing electrolytes that are lost from sweat but for most races, water should be sufficient. As far as supplements are concerned, a well-balanced diet will provide your body with the nutrients you need to stay active and competitive. You should consult your family physician, sports medicine physician, or nutritionist before starting any supplements. Most supplements are not put through FDA testing and as such are not FDA approved so just remember that if a supplement is promising something that seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Hopefully with these running myths debunked, it will help you in your quest to run whatever distance you wish. Whether it is a couple of miles or a full marathon, everyone must start somewhere. If you are unsure where to start, how to start, or can’t seem to get over nagging repetitive injuries while training, please do not hesitate in setting up an appointment with your Sports Medicine Physician to get you back into the race!

Schedule An Appointment

For questions, more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact NGPG Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

About NGPG Sports Medicine

NGPG’s Sports Medicine Team consists of board-certified physicians offering more than 20 years of sports medicine experience treating patients of all ages. Specialized in treating sports-related injuries, our team is dedicated to helping athletes return to the big game and the active lifestyle they know and love.