Who Hurt You?

1. Injuries Are Not an Act of God

This is the first of Noakes’ Ten Laws of Running Injuries. It is the longest, and contains a fair bit of information on form, and running stride. For me, it is the most important to think about when you pick up a knock.

By Noakes, and by logic, there are two types of injuries: extrinsic and intrinsic. Go ahead and churn those wheels for a minute and you will figure out what he means. Extrinsic injuries occur from external forces – an unruly tackle by some putz that should not be playing, a driver too busy horking a Big Mac, or maybe a deer.  Sometimes runners pick up extrinsic injuries, but they are seldom and the majority of injuries that runners pick up are, in fact, intrinsic, meaning that they come from some malady within. These maladies lie in our form.

Noakes claims that these intrinsic injuries can be traced to three factors: “genetic build; the environment in which training is performed, including the shoes that are worn; and the athletes training methods” (Noakes 742).

Noakes says that our genetic builds can have hereditary influences, and that due to these genetic variations, essentially all runners function differently. Further, he says “perfect mechanical function is exceedingly rare and is restricted to the handful of runners who run as far as they like in whatever shoes they might choose without ever being injured” (Noakes 742). Basically, if a runner has perfect mechanical function, shoes do not matter. Unfortunately, for those of us that do not have perfect mechanical function, we are out of luck as “these common biomechanical abnormalities cause running injuries by altering the biomechanics of the running stride” (Noakes 745). In essence, poor form means injury.

Read through a minimalist lens, Noakes is basically saying the vast majority of running based injuries can be attributed to deficiencies in form. When these deficiencies are fixed and our mechanical abnormalities marginalized, we can begin to run injury free – just look out for those flying deer.

There is also a ton of information in this short section that – I think – encourages the  minimalist route, but that is a discussion for another day altogether.

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