Fatigue, Biomechanics and Injury | The Long Distance Runner

Over the last 2 months our team has been operating our own specialist running assessment called The Run Lab. For more information on what is involved in that, click here.

In this blog post, our Podiatrist John Delany talks about interesting findings from the last 2 months.

Fatigue and Biomechanics

The most interesting thing from The Run Lab has definitely been observing how fatigue manifests itself in the biomechanics of different runners. I’m going to be referring to those who ran more than 20k for their assessment. Everyone experienced incremental reductions in efficiency metrics AND incremental increases in shock metrics. At the same time the vast majority also maintained their (self set) pace. 

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So what is to be made of this?

Imagine that you are heading out for a long run. That first mile is going to cost x amount of energy. Well, if fatigued enough, your last mile is costing you a lot more.

Muscle fatigue has caused biomechanical changes to an extent that you are physically expending more energy to run than you normally would. The ratio is off.

I don’t think this is anything new. In a way it’s common sense, but a true running assessment should involve gathering data while you are physically pushing yourself in a real world environment, at real speeds and over real distances. You get a set of data, that is the most honest reflection of you and your running mechanics. 

In The Run Lab we can do this, we have been able to identify the muscle groups that are prematurely fatiguing. From this, very effective strength and conditioning programs can be created.

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Injuries, Asymmetries and Fatigue

My new favourite thing to say is that injured runners consistently display asymmetries but there is absolutely no consistency in the asymmetries themselves.

Uninjured athletes exist in this kind of equilibrium between damage and repair. We think of them as paradigms for avoiding injury. In reality there is no real “normal” that can be applied to everyone. Yet at the same time everyone does have their own normal. Where they too are active and injury free. It is a delicate balance.

It was very interesting then to see that every injured runner we assessed presented with some sort of asymmetry, just not at first. Some of the asymmetries only became visible late into the run. After fatigue kicked in. There are so many  points to take away from that and think on. It does seem like strength and conditioning is able to both cure and mask symptoms. It also seems like injuries and altered function do go hand-in-hand. It’s just a chicken/egg scenario.

All in all, The Run Lab collects very valuable and honest information that helps build a clearer picture of mechanical function in the long distance runner.

The Run Lab can be booked by contacting us via phone, email or by calling in-store. Gift Vouchers can be used for The Run Lab

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