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I’m old. I run. The two are not necessarily a great combination. I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had fits figuring out what type of shoe I need in order to deal with foot pain. I have that sort of figured out. A temporary fix, at least, until I can get to a running store and be properly fitted for running shoes that will work best with my feet and gait.

I have normal aches and pains. Knees. Hips. Ankles. Nothing that I consider out of the ordinary, and really, I am feeling very good, and like things are finally coming together in the running world for me. I’m feeling more confident and comfortable in this craziness.

Well, a friend of mine sent me a link to a running seminar that Mizzou’s Orthopedic Institute was putting on and I jumped at the chance to go. It was part of their “Knowledge Now” series and tonight’s topic was avoiding injuries as a lifelong runner. Well, I’m obviously not a lifelong runner, but I do hope to be able to keep doing it for a long time to come, so I thought the seminar would be worth my while. And I thought right!

They had the program divided into two halves: Common injuries (repetitive) and how to prevent them, and how to recover from them non-surgically; and then how to fix knees when the injuries are too extensive to fix by non-invasive means. After each section there was a question and answer period.

So…avoiding injuries. I think we ALL know that we need to strengthen our muscles and keep them stretched out. That’s the logical thing. I think a lot of us know that our gait has a lot to do with the predictability of an injury as well. But THIS person (LookAtMe, LookAtMe) really doesn’t know what a proper gait is. They showed clips of a Video Gait Analysis and stopped the video at various points to show us why the guy was injured to begin with, and then discussed what he had to do to fix his issues. From what they described, I have a fairly proper gait. I know that I haven’t always. I have long legs and tend to walk with very long strides. Back in the olden days of high school I was a 4×4 runner and my long gait was beneficial. Not anymore. I take much shorter strides than I used to and I’m not sure why I do it, I just do. It has felt more comfortable as I run. So my feet are falling basically in line with my body with every step I take. That’s where they’re supposed to land. I’m actually doing something right and didn’t even know it! Whee.

Just a few basic facts that I didn’t know before. They’re random, but they’re the things that struck me enough to jot down a note about it.

  • GRF is a term they used a lot tonight. Ground Reaction Forces. It’s the amount of stress each foot strike encounters. Three times your body weight! THREE!! That’s the kind of pounding our feet are taking every time each foot hits the pavement. That’s a LOT. No wonder good running shoes are important.
  • When we’re training for something we shouldn’t increase our mileage more than 10% per week. 10% is the max. Any increase over that is just asking for an injury. The docs said don’t do it!
  • Patello Femoral Syndrome. Ann knows a little something about this. This is the most common injury among runners. The stress on the knee cap is pretty severe. The force on the patella from walking is 1/3 to 1/2 times our body weight. When we do stairs the force on the patella is 3 times our body weight. When we do squats the force on the patella is 7 times our body weight. That is CRAZY! When they started talking in “body weight” numbers I just cringed and was amazed all at the same time. How can something as tiny as a knee cap take that much force? It truly is incredible.  Anyway… stretching and strength training is the best way to avoid this injury.
  • They kept talking about a Myrtl Routine. It was developed by Coach Jay, whom I have never heard of, but apparently he’s Mr. Thing in the running world. They recommended that we search youtube for his Hip Mrytl Routine and incorporate it into our running program. I plan on doing that.
  • The knee extension machine in the weight room is the devil. Do not use it! If you’re looking to build your quad muscles use the leg press instead. It’s much better on your knees.
  • One of the docs who presented said that his dad (who was a big time ortho surgeon in NYC) used to always say, “You should not run to get into shape. You should get into shape so you can run.” Oopsie. I’ve been doing it all backwards.

That was the first half in a nutshell. And then there were questions. Very valid questions. Great answers. And then some numbnutz (who was sitting through the seminar with his lap top open) raises his hands and starts questioning the “theory” about the running gait being such a major cause of injuries because everyone runs differently and not everyone has injuries and there can’t possibly be one perfect running gait and blah, blah, blah. The doctor (who is the chairman of the orthopedic program and majorly involved in their research program) responded to his question very logically and this guy ARGUED with him! Finally the doctor goes, “It’s like saying that smoking doesn’t cause cancer because this one friend of mine has smoked 4 packs a day for years and isn’t sick!” That pretty well shut the guy up and about made me choke as I tried suppressing my laughter. I can’t even imagine the gall of someone to go to a seminar put on by experts in the field and then arguing with them. Pretty certain I wasn’t the only one in the room rolling my eyes.

The second half they talked about surgical fixes…the times when therapy, rest, steroids, etc. don’t work. They showed a video from a laproscopic cartilage tear repair. Cool. Then they showed a microfracture procedure where they drill holes into cartilage so that the blood cells that form will cause scarring, which fixes damage. WAY COOL! Then he gave a warning that the next segment was going to be more than laproscopic so if anyone had a weak stomach they might want to consider leaving early. He showed an Osteoarticular Allograft. Cartilage graft, basically. Super, super cool!! Bloody. Gory. But super cool.

The university is involved in some pretty major research trying to learn how to get donor grafts to stay alive longer so that they can have a longer window of time to do cartilage transplants. Doing transplants gives the most effective fix, but it’s really expensive. The research they’re doing is interesting to me. I could have listened to him talk about their experiments for a long time.

Anyway. It was an awesome seminar. I learned stuff. Had stuff I already knew reaffirmed. I got to roll my eyes at a dufus. Overall. A good time. Glad I went.

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