You Should Be Fit To Run, Not Run To Get Fit

I was at a conference a few weeks ago titled the science of running and the above quote “you have to be fit to run and you should not run to get fit” really stood out to me.  Many times we have been inactive for many months, even years, and decide to “get fit”. So we decide to start running to get back into shape. This, in my opinion, is a very dangerous idea…

Running is a great mode of exercises but can be very demanding on the body.  Running is comprised of a series of repetitive single limb impacts, high vertical ground reaction forces (2-3 times body weight), high loading rates (70-100 bodyweights/second), and high joint moments and muscle demands.   When you couple this with poor mechanics it is only a matter of time before you get injured.

The basic requirements of running include shock absorption, adequate limb alignment and stability, good pelvis and trunk stability, and adequate foot alignment and stability. If you are a runner and do not have good shock absorption you could develop stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, or intra-articular joint pain at the knee, hip, or spine.   Studies have shown that foot strike pattern, trunk position, muscle strength, and cadence can improve your shock absorption with running.   I think by now you are starting to see how running to get fit can be a problem…

I strongly urge you, if you are experiencing pain while running, to seek out a Physical Therapist who can perform a running biomechanical evaluation and a physical examination of your strength and flexibility.   Their findings and treatment prescription can lead to improved performance, pain free running, and prevention of other injuries.  


John R. Thomas, PT, DPT, OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Orthopedic Certified Specialist

Alex Goldenring