Faster is Lighter

Faster is Lighter

Bookmark and Share


Runners' shin bones endure heavier loads when athletes dawdle than when they hightail it, new research shows.(Illustration by iStock)
Runners' shin bones endure heavier loads when athletes dawdle than when they hightail it, new research shows.
(Illustration by iStock)

Stress fractures of the shin bones are one of the most common injuries that put runners on the couch, and athletes often simply slow down in an attempt to avoid them. But according to recently published research from the Department of Kinesiology, running fast doesn’t actually cause any more strain on runners’ tibias than running at a slower pace does.

Assistant Professor Ross Miller and his research team, including doctoral students Jessica Hunter and Gina Garcia and Associate Professor Jae Kun Shim, studied 43 recreational runners as they circled a 50-meter track, first at a self-chosen moderate speed, and again alternating between slow and fast speeds.

While each participant ran, the researchers measured three variables that affect the stress on their tibias: how quickly they transfer their weight onto their leg when taking a step, the pattern of their foot’s movement on the ground and how much weight their legs ultimately bore.

The researchers found that conventional wisdom didn’t pan out: Both speeds contributed similarly to the stresses related to the first two variables, but when it came to the third, slow running caused participants’ tibias to bear more cumulative weight than fast running did. That’s because, when a runner’s pace slows, their stride shortens and their feet are in contact with the ground longer. The findings were published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“Of the variables we tested, the difference in step length between the fast and slow speeds had the greatest effect on cumulative tibial load,” Hunter told Runner’s World in an interview about the research. “Since step lengths were shorter at slower speeds, subjects needed to take more steps while running slower.”

Because stress fractures are often attributed to running too fast or too intensely, interval training—alternating between fast and slow speeds—is thought to decrease risk of injury. Little is known, though, about how changing speeds affects the strain placed on a runner’s shins. This study clarifies the effect of interval training on stress fracture risk, suggesting that runners can add more fast running to their training programs without increasing their chance of injury.

The study also has implications for how runners calculate the intensity of their workouts. Runners often measure the strain placed on their body by tracking the total distance and average speed of their runs, but the study’s results show that additional variables like changes in speed should also be tracked.

 

This article originally appeared in Maryland Today.

February 22, 2019


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

UMD Researchers Win $1.5M Minerva Grant to Understand Social Media Information Campaigns

UMD Division of Research Announces Maryland Catalyst Fund New Direction 2019 Award Winners

UMD’s Julie Lenzer Authors Article in the National Academy of Inventors journal, Technology and Innovation

Maryland Energy Innovation Institute Launches First Start-Up in Incubator

Scientists Identify New Genetic Interactions that May Impact Cancer Outcomes

UMD BRAKE Research Administration Training Team Delivers Workshops in Ireland

UMD Physicist for Apollo Experiment Gets Chance to Send Next Gen Version to Moon

Mellon Foundation Awards $2.8M for Research, Digitization in Humanities

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts

Connect

social iconsFacebookTwitterLinkedInResearch News RSS Feed
Office of Technology Commercialization
2130 Mitchell Building
7999 Regents Dr.
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Phone: 301-405-3947  |  Fax: 301-314-9502
Email: umdtechtransfer@umd.edu

© Copyright 2013 University of Maryland

Did You Know

UMD's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, which simulates weightlessness, is one of only two such facilities in the U.S.