PT on the Net Research

Females Running: Impact Issues


Question:

Does running have a negative effect on women and the aging process?

Answer:

This is an interesting question. We first must understand that there are many different perspectives when it comes to injury and what is "bad." I don’t believe in "good" or "bad" exercises, only good or bad choices for each individual. Jogging is a good exercise choice for some women and an awful choice for others. I cannot locate any reputable statistics stating that running is bad for women at any age, provided they have worked up to it and not pushed past their capabilities.

Bone density studies have shown that women who work in a weight-bearing environment will retain bone density better than those who do not. In every stride of the running sequence, an individual will land with seven to 10 times her body weight. The issues come up when the individual has not been screened properly for running. Far too often, people start running literally before they have walked. To take a sedentary individual and tell her to start a jogging regimen is probably not the best scenario. Each individual wanting to engage in any exercise program, especially jogging, should have an orthopedic screening to determine if the impact of jogging is something in her best interest.

The first test that should be performed is the single leg stand and squat. Have your client try to stand on one foot for at least 30 seconds. Watch the ankle for instability. The average American over the age of 30 cannot stand on one leg for 30 seconds without gross upper body compensation. With that said, if you take that individual who cannot stand on one leg without compensation and without movement, then have her try to run and land on that unstable foot and ankle complex, you are asking for trouble down the line. If she cannot stand stable on one leg, do not try to have her squat with one leg. If she can stand on one leg and look relatively stable, proceed to a one legged squat.

Watch the knee and ankle when she starts into flexion. If the foot starts to cave in medially and the knee follows, it is a classic sign of pronation. An individual who pronates and is not currently on a running program is not a good candidate to start a running program until she has corrected some of the issues involved with pronation. There are many articles that deal with pronation issues in the PTN Content Library. Usually the muscle that needs to be worked on the most is the gluteus medius. The glutes become weakened dramatically when the frontal plane has been ignored.

To recap, I have not found anything reputable that states running in general has a negative effect on females.