Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Should Women Run? - Part 2

Should women run? This is the question that was recently posed on a popular internet sports conditioning forum. Citing a review article published in the journal Sports Medicine, and a vague reference to women’s structural anatomy, the commentator questioned whether women should run.

More specifically, the author of the post indicated that women should not engage in frequent long distance runs, arguing in favor of short duration, high intensity intervals. He also, to his credit, advocated taking a “thoughtful and cautious” approach to planning cardiovascular exercise. To be sure, there is ample scientific evidence in support of high intensity interval training, and nothing is more important than being thoughtful in planning exercise routines. But these concepts were very clearly couched in the premise that women’s bodies put them at much greater risk of overuse injuries. He didn’t state that men and women should limit or avoid running. Instead, he implied that women were better off not running. So, we repeat the question; should women run?

As with any other issue, the answer to this question

depends largely upon one’s perspective, and one’s training goals. But let’s begin with a statistic from the aforementioned review article, that 20% to 30% of male army recruits sustained monthly debilitating injuries, while their female counterparts were injured at a rate of 40% to 60% per month. Thus, the rate of injuries among women in this group was twice that of men.

It has been suggested, that the reason women are injured more frequently is because they have larger Q-angles

than men. The quadriceps angle (Q-angle), as pictured at right, is formed by a vertical line bisecting the patella (knee cap), and a diagonal line from the center of the patella to the pelvis. Normal Q-angles for women are approximately 16 degrees, while those of men are 11 degrees

(Horton and Hall, 1989). This difference is obviously attributable to a woman’s wider pelvis.

According to Rauh, et al. (2007), the Q-angle represents the direction of pull of the knee extensor muscles. As the angle increases, the muscles pull in a more lateral direction, increasing the potential for alignment abnormalities between the patella and the underlying surface of the femur. But how, if at all, does this relate to running injuries in women? -This article was adapted from

For Why Should Women Run Part 1 - click here.
For more information on the latest Cybex equipment, click here.


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