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Member Research and Reports

Maryland: Study Finds Running Fast Isn’t Necessarily Linked to Stress Fractures Maryland

According to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health, running fast doesn’t cause any more strain on a person’s shin bones than running at a slower pace does.

Assistant professor Dr. Ross Miller and his research team, including doctoral students Ms. Jessica Hunter and Ms. Gina Garcia and associate professor Jae Kun Shim, all in the Department of Kinesiology, 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 the participants ran, the researchers measured three variables that affect the pressure running asserted 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 fast running was no riskier than slow running. Both speeds contributed similarly to the first two variables, but slow running actually meant the participants’ tibias bore more cumulative weight — or cumulative tibial load — than they did while running fast. That’s because, when a runner’s pace slows, their stride shortens and their feet are in contact with the ground longer.

This study clarifies the effect of interval training — alternating between fast and slow speeds — on stress fracture risk, suggesting that runners can add more fast running to their training programs without increasing their chance of injury.

The study, ‘Fast Running Does Not Contribute More to Cumulative Load than Slow Running,’ was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

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