Does Movement Therapy Prevent Running Injuries?

woman running

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas

couple running through the cityRunners have an increased risk of injury that results from overuse and overtraining.

Preventing injuries that result from running has been a topic of research for those looking for ways to reduce the negative training side effects that result from overuse. Running leads to many health and well-being benefits, such as positive changes to body composition, reduces resting heart rate, and improves aerobic capacity and lipid profile.

A recent review of reported running injuries in male runners found that more than half of them sustained a running-induced injury the year prior. The knee is most likely to be affected, and common running injuries are medial tibial stress syndrome, petallar tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, ankle sprain, and patellofemoral pain syndrome in the upper thigh area (Kozinc & Sarabon, 2017).  Prevention methods of common running injuries is desired knowledge for those looking to develop long term training programs that limit the negative side effects of overusing running muscles. 

Previous reviews of therapy interventions neglected to identify the most effective injury prevention methods to lower injury risk in runners. Prior research concluded that the knowledge in this area is limited and recommended that individuals perform an individualized training method instead of a generalized prevention program. Thus, researchers from the University of Slovenia sought to identify best practice movement therapy interventions as well as training modifications to prevent running injuries that could be adopted by all runners.

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The Study, The Results

A comprehensive literature review was performed to find randomized control trials and cohort studies that used movement therapy interventions or modified running training programs to reduce running-related injuries.

The meta-analysis did not result in a conclusive agreement on generalized running injury prevention in endurance running training programs. This may be because most studies included in the search were not looking for generalized common running injuries, they focused on prevention of individual running injuries. However, the analysis resulted in a summary of prevention methods that proved to reduce individual running injuries, as follows.

Stretching the major lower extremity muscle groups has proven to prevent lower-limb injury, after warm-up activities and before training. The effects of a gradual training program on running-related injuries proved to work for some runners, as running volume and training time gradually increased over a 13-week program, some runners experienced a lower incidence of injury. 

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Running injuries related to muscle overuse are so variable that it is difficult to create a generalized injury prevention program for all runners. Running-related injuries can often be serious enough that athletes must alter their training, and sometimes even quit running altogether to opt for modes of exercise that aren’t so taxing on the lower body.

The best example of a comprehensive injury prevention program for runners was designed to target medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). A combination of prevention therapies were used to reduce injury risk, such as running gait retraining, neuromuscular control exercises, and flexibility training sessions. Participants experienced a reduced risk to developing MTSS, indicating that multiple prevention techniques are needed to target the various injuries that runners experience from overusing lower body muscles.

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Kozinc, Z., & Sarabon, N. (2017). “Effectiveness of Movement Therapy Interventions

and Training Modifications for Preventing Running Injuries: A Meta-Analysis

of Randomized Control Trials.” Journal of Sport Science and Medicine, 16, 421-

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