Avoiding Running Injuries As You Age In Spite Of Almost Perfect Form – Don’t Become Stuck In Deeper Snow

Hi folks,

Myles and FitOldDog at the Carrboro 10k 2012. It took me years to fix my running form, but it was worth it as now running injuries are very rare for me. Don’t be deceived by Myles, a much faster runner, as she arrived at the same time as me only because she spent most of the run dancing around and just having fun, while I had to grit my teeth.

FitOldDog's logoI suspect that most people, in the USA at least, have heard of the tooth fairy. Well, we have a magic fairy who comes to our door leaving gifts. Why these gifts come when they do I have no idea, but I like them because a copy of some runner’s magazine is always included. I think the magazine fairy’s name is Brad. This time my eye caught a headline of Women’s Running Magazine, “Fix Your Form Bye Bye, Injuries, Hello, PRs!” I read the article, which was brief but excellent, emphasizing the key features of a generally safe running form. I repeat, ‘generally,’ as it just so happens that I know two runners with apparently almost perfect running form, and they both have persistent ankle injuries. I now suspect that I know why.

FitOldDog cooking, Lake Placid NY, Lake Placid Ironman 2012, cook stove,

My old Chevy truck is a four-wheel drive vehicle, but with over 300,000 miles on the clock we don’t go fast, either of us, but we do keep going – I love that old truck.

One day I tuned into my favorite National Public Radio show, Prairie Home Companion, when the host, Garrison Keillor, was talking about life in Lake Woebegon. He just happened to say that the only advantage of a four-wheel drive vehicle was to become stuck in deeper snow. This thought stayed in my head, until I wondered the other day if my two running friends were suffering from the same dilemma. They have one thing in common – they are fast. They are skilled runners, but they are older skilled runners who ‘maybe stuck in deeper snow.’ I suspect that they are unaware that they neglecting their increasing need to strengthen their legs, all the way down to their feet, in addition to working on optimizing balance, flexibility, and especially ankle strength (I use wobbly balls), whilst constantly working on their form to minimize impact stress. They might also consider barefoot running as the solution, but very very carefully and only after their injuries are repaired. Barefoot running is truly wonderful, but it is not for everyone, and, in fact, I would caution anybody with a connective tissue disorder, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, to take extra care in this respect.

As you age, to compensate for entropy do more and more stretching, strengthening, loosening, balancing, and body-awareness work.

You just cannot overcome the affects of aging, you have to embrace them and slow them down as best you can. It will take longer to fix injuries, and you have to be really dedicated to your sport as you age, and temper your discipline with wisdom. This is what safe exercise for better health is all about.

FitOldDog’s recommendation for older runners with persistent injuries is to consider moving from speed to endurance running.

Thoughts, Randy and Matthew?

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.