Jogging: The Body Killer

This article is for the joggers, the recreational runner, the marathon runners, and even for those that are thinking about training for a marathon or picking up “jogging.”  Let me give you some advice…..STOP!  For some, this may be confusing, or even a bit offensive for the avid, overly obsessed runner (and I do intend to hear some negative feedback for this article).But whether your goals are to stay fit or just lose weight, there are better, more efficient ways to go about this.  Now I am not totally against recreational jogging or long distance running, in fact, I applaud you for at least doing something, but I want to break it down for you so you know exactly what you are doing to yourself when you go out for that daily jog over an extended length of time.  I have broken this down to a Good, Bad, and Ugly version and then give you what you should be doing to meet that cardio need of yours!  Let’s get started!

The Good

LISS cardio, or Low Intensity Steady State cardio, is exactly what the acronym stands for; long, slow and steady cardio (jogging/walking).  The benefit to LISS is that it IS good for the heart.  LISS can reduce blood pressure, increase work capacity, and help with weight loss, which is why many people start a jogging or running routine in the first place.  LISS even increases a person’s metabolism which burns more calories up to a couple hours after running is done.  LISS is much safer than HIIT cardio, High Intensity Interval Training cardio, which can lead to more injury and overtraining if not done properly.  Many times LISS is also the only cardio option available for some who may have physical, or even psychological reasons to avoid a higher intensity training technique.  Now if you are using LISS type techniques by walking, you avoid even more stress being put on the body and reduce the amount of wear and tear, but you do not burn near as many calories.  It is clear that there is a time and place for LISS activities like jogging, and everyone doing this type of training should see some sort of benefit (in the short term).  I cannot stress enough that ANY kind of exercise is better than no exercise at all!

I am glad I we got that out of the way.  Now let’s move on….

The Bad

First ask yourself one thing.  Have you ever met a runner that hasn’t complained about their ankles, knees, low back or hips?  I haven’t.  Why is that?  Let me explain.

The average height of a woman in the United States is 5’5” and the average height of an American male is 5’9.”  To give us a rough estimate of stride length for a typical male and woman, we would have to find a happy medium between a sprint and walk.  In order to do this we must take our height in inches and multiply .883 (the factor for finding stride length between walking and sprinting).  When we do this we come up with an average stride of just over 5 feet for men and just under 5 feet for woman.  For arguments sake well keep it at 5 feet.

If you were to run a mile, a mile is 5,280 feet, that means that on average the normal person is taking atleast 1,050 strides ( This does not take into account any dysfunction or imbalances that may be present that shorten the stride length).  According to Saucony Shoe Company, a runner can experience force up to 7x a person’s bodyweight. Using the average weight of a typical American at 180 pounds (if you weigh under this consider yourself lucky), that is upwards of 1000 pounds of force per stride!  When we multiply that over a mile it is close to 1 million pounds of force applied to your body!  For you marathon runners out there, multiply that by 26.2 and you have…A REALLY, BIG NUMBER (26.2 million pounds of force experienced).

Now knowing that each structure and tissue of the body is only able to take so much load, or stress, before it becomes dysfunctional and starts to break down (see my earlier posts on load/capacity), it is literally only a matter of time before a recreational runner begins to literally break down!  With forces like this being experienced, many times on a daily basis, it is no wonder why so many runners break down over time, especially in the ankles, knees, and hips where the load is being transmitted.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with jogging and recreational running.

The Ugly

What is worse than chronic wear and tear on your body?  Altered hormones!  Yes! You heard correctly, running alters your bodies normal, healthy hormones!

If you watch the Olympics in the coming days (and I sure hope you do) compare the body structure of a sprinter and a long distance runner.  What you should notice is a considerable difference in muscle mass AND body fat percentage!  Here is a comparison.

Image

Both individuals are world class athletes.  One is the picture of what a human should look like while the other looks like a Holocaust survivor.  The difference, besides the obvious body composition, lies in the hormone levels.  If you take a look at some of the most important hormones in your body for health and fitness (Glucagon, Insulin, HGH, Leptin, and Cortisol) you will see that the sprinter and the “jogger” are on completely different ends of the spectrum.

When you look at the “jogger” you will see that glucagon, the hormone responsible for helping to raise low blood sugar and help with fat loss during exercise, and HGH (human growth hormone) a hormone responsible for muscle growth and performance are extremely low.  Insulin, the hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar and storing sugars in the bloodstream as fat, leptin, the hormone for hunger, and cortisol, a stress hormone that makes it more difficult to lose weight are all increased dramatically.  So now, not only during your long runs are you adding even more stress to your body, you are actually making it harder to lose the fat and build muscle, all the while making you more hungry!  The complete opposite goals of exercise and fitness!

Image

Looking at our sprinter counterpart you will see that the hormones are reversed.  Glucagon and HGH are high and Insulin, leptin, and cortisol are low, making their bodies efficient fat-busting, muscle-building machines.

Image

The Solution?

The Solution is quite simple really.  Start practicing HIIT (high intensity interval training during your runs.  If you are new to interval training, start easy.  Jog for two minutes for a warm-up (yes I said jog), then go all out for 30 seconds, after the sprint resume your jog, or walk, or even just rest.  Repeat this process for up to 20 minutes.  Or after a light warm-up, sprint 40 yards, walk back to the starting position, and repeat 10 times. It could be just as easy as finding a hill, sprinting up it, walking back down, and repeating this process 5 times. It is just that simple.  When that becomes easy, start reducing the rest periods and/or increase the sprint times, distances, or amount.  Make sure that you are exerting yourself to the max though during your sprints.  This should be harder than your jog!

By following these instructions, not only will you get your running “fix” in, you will be training more effectively and efficiently, saving you time and altering your body!  So stop running now (and thank me later)!

Chiropractor Cedar Rapids

UPDATED!!

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  1. #1 by Michael Cusack on October 12, 2012 - 11:47 AM

    This Article should have more attention it is awesome.

  2. #2 by chatroulette online users on February 7, 2013 - 2:39 PM

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  3. #3 by arnold on December 21, 2013 - 7:28 AM

    Thanks for sharing, it will be useful for some of my friends

  4. #4 by Derek on December 21, 2013 - 3:06 PM

    Well whoever works at Saucony got the force experienced by a runner wrong. F=ma
    Even if you dropped out of a 747 at 30,000ft in the air and landed on your feet, you would still only experience 1x your body weight. Thanks for playing.

    • #5 by jpia on January 22, 2014 - 12:15 PM

      Check your physics. Force you experience when falling from 30000 ft is way larger than just F=ma. Try jumping from that height whithout a parachute and measure the force when you hit the ground.

  5. #6 by Frederik on December 21, 2013 - 3:39 PM

    This article is highly subjective, backed up badly and very non-scientific. Everyone should be cautious and stay critical while reading this stuff.

    The sum of experienced force is a weak argument for not running: You could also come up with the experienced force by walking over lifetime – it’ll be VERY BIG. Should you stop walking because of that? Of course not.

    You say the sprinter looks like a human should look like? Are you aware of that these athletes take steroids and (illegal) performance enhancing drugs? These athletes are not normal, neither natural. They push themselfs to the limits while damaging their health long term.

    Where are the scientific sources of your “hormone study”?

    Also: Another reason for joint pains and the like besides highly unhealthy running style (the vast majority of amateur runners has it – just look at the next best 10k) is that people are too heavy and live a lifestyle (diet) that is bad for regeneration and their health overall (like consumption of drugs, meat and dairy, too few fruits and vegetables etc.). You didn’t even mention these factors.

    I personally can easily run over 10k (average ~12 km/h) regularly and I NEVER have any issues because I am very lean, live and eat healthy.

    • #7 by Rebecca on January 3, 2014 - 3:12 AM

      Just one point, there is unbelievable extensive drug testing which all olympic athletes have to go through to make it to the games. So to become an olympian you have to be extremely cautious with anything you put near your body in risks of failing these tests, a lot of supplements that your average person has access to is even on the banned substance list, it goes right down to ingredients in cough syrup (I know this first hand).
      SO in other words your comment is also VERY “non-scientific” and back up on facts you obviously know nothing about.

      • #8 by Frederik on January 3, 2014 - 10:04 PM

        LOL do you seriously believe these TOP athletes are NOT fully pumped up with all kinds of anabolica, testosterone and related drugs besides EPO and stuff? Haha!
        They are all doing it of course highly professional with real experts on performance enhancing drugs. The reason why they don’t get caught is because their physicians know exactly which drugs to use when and in which dosage AND because these tests are nothing else than NOT strict and very predictable.
        The Olympic comitee has no interest in athletes getting caught because it sheds a bad light on the olympic games. That’s why some positive doping results are even covered up, like in Carl Lewis’ case.

        Sorry to destroy your illusions, but “If You Don’t Take It, You Won’t Make It”! Watch it: http://youtu.be/ohT_zoodqfU

  6. #9 by Jim Pickens on December 21, 2013 - 3:55 PM

    These are just excuses for those who are just too lazy to get off the couch and go running. So stop reading this and go join a marathon.

  7. #10 by Durant Mastah on December 21, 2013 - 4:37 PM

    This article is rubbish.

    1. Running injuries stem from improper form and overtraining, and NEVER from the running itself. The sooner you get this, the sooner we can move on. Also, there are literally thousands of runners who DON’T suffer from leg injuries. Just because you don’t know of them doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Our ancestors did it all their life without problems.

    2. Your maths is WAY off. Any engineer will tell you that cyclic loading is never the same as one fat lump of force, so please don’t add up the total force and present it as the gospel truth. The two follow totally different characteristics for failure.

    3. The leg bones and muscles can take far more than you give them credit. The shin bone alone can handle over a metric ton of force before shattering, and the knees and ankles are precisely there to absorb impact. You need to learn biomechanics.

    4. Your idea of body form is entirely bull. Sprinters build muscle for power to help in accelerating. Runners DO NOT need that kind of muscle, hence they are more lean. Also, most marathoners do not look like in your picture, so stop feeding your reader lies. Kenyans are skinny because they’re born like that. And more muscles =/= more healthy.

    Also, a term you need to look up: ECTOMORPH. Learn it.

    5. You say marathoners gain fat easily and gain muscle hard. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. Your body burns fat more efficiently than muscle, which is exactly what a marathoner needs, and less muscle because bulk is counterproductive.

    Honestly I don’t know what you were smoking when you wrote this article. But the facts are so wrong I’m embarrased to even show this to anyone. Seriously.

  8. #11 by TAN Kim Pong on December 22, 2013 - 5:02 AM

    The average stride of a jogger is not five feet, it is considerably less than 3 feet. The average speed of a jogger is probably a third that of a champion so that the impact on landing is considerably less than 1000 pounds per stride. Your suggestion of a force of 1 million pounds per mile is therefore an exaggeration of enormous proportion. My analogy of the energy dissapated on landing is like the gentle wave force landing on a beach and not a tsunamie as suggested. The marathon champions these days are African of small built of average weight of 125 pounds and their body is quite well proportioned and not the shape suggested.
    I have been running marathons since 1987 and I am still an active marathoner. I am able to maintain my weight at about 55 to 58 kg (121 to 128 pounds) through jogging. I do not have seious problems with my knees or my two feet. I still run a good marathon though the completion time is increasing as I am now approaching 65 years of age.
    I urge all joggers to continue running and not be persuaded by this article.
    Happy running.

  9. #12 by Nick Bernhardt on December 22, 2013 - 5:22 AM

    This article bothers me, so I will deliver that rant you’ve been expecting.

    If you training for anything with exclusively LISS exercises, you’re not training properly. Proper marathon training includes intervals, hill sprints, etc. and one long run on the weekend. Even weight exercisers are encouraged, but with lower weight and higher reps. Race day is a different matter, it comes rarely and is an extreme mental test which requires considerable physical preparation.

    World class marathoners run sub 5:00 miles throughout the entire race, they know what they sacrifice for that ability. Also, if you think that’s a jog, you’re crazy.

    Injuries can be avoided easily by running with proper equipment, running on proper surfaces, stretching, and not overtraining.

    I ran a marathon this morning, and I look nothing like a holocaust survivor. I am also not a world class runner, but Ryan Hall is, and neither does he:
    http://www.takethemagicstep.com/files/ryan-hall-olympics-2008-c-250×376.jpg

    Nor does Lelisa Desisa (winner of the 2013 Boston Marathon):
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/2013_Boston_Marathon_-_Flickr_-_soniasu_(46).jpg

    Just cause they’re not jacked, doesn’t make them unhealthy. Why would they want to carry around 30 extra lbs. of arm muscle? They’re trying to win and in running, you use your arms to pull yourself forward only in (you guessed it) the sprint.

    And if you are going to calculate damage to the body on world class athletes, or even your average marathoner, please do not use the weight and stride length of the average American, who struggles with a 5k. We all know we aren’t the most physically fit country.

    If you want to encourage people to train properly by incorporating intervals, hill sprints, and other high intensity workouts, then do so. But please do it by citing benefits, not by thrashing endurance training and telling people to “stop running.”

  10. #13 by Brent on December 22, 2013 - 3:33 PM

    for someone who major in sport science. I feel some of ur facts seems distorted and biased. A very simple superficial point is that, although most marathon runners are lean due to nature of the sport (i wun go into the science of tht), the picture you posed is just not adequate. And there just so many other things i can point out which does not agree with many journal articles ive read. So please, if u wan to make your point and make ur article credible, pls do insert references of proper published journals to support your claims. If not, do not mislead the people with your own opinion when jogging does more good than bad unlike the way you actually put it. thanks.

  11. #14 by Debica on December 22, 2013 - 11:24 PM

    this article is full of excuses.

  12. #15 by Doug Brown on December 23, 2013 - 12:10 AM

    You see the world in black and white. The sprinter pictured did not get his musculature from sprinting alone but from intense weight lifting and likely bulking up substances, legal or otherwise. The distance runner probably puts in 250 kilometres a week, much of that at high performance pace. His loss of body mass means he has less to carry when he’s competing. What the article really compares is bulked-up sprinters versus elite marathoners. Are these the readers you were intending to target? Neither are overly concerned with their long-term health, rather short-term competitive goals.

  13. #16 by Byron on December 23, 2013 - 6:12 AM

    This is funny, as just a week ago I had friends visit from Florida.. Both are supremely fit for their age.. Near 50.. We were talking about my jogging routine and their recommendation was that I should start “interval Trainign” instead of jogging…

    The one thing I still would like clarification on is the stress that is exerted on the body.. How does interval training address that…

  14. #17 by Nicklas Foresti Nirinjan Singh on December 23, 2013 - 9:15 AM

    I shared.

  15. #18 by sajitmk on December 23, 2013 - 12:40 PM

    Is this something we can practice on thread mill too? Or so you recommend it only for outside running?

  16. #19 by sajitmk on December 23, 2013 - 12:41 PM

    Is this recommended on the thread mill also?

  17. #20 by sandy on December 23, 2013 - 1:40 PM

    i do agree on that. im a long distance runner but my body reacted the way i want it t be when i do interval runs and uphill runs.

  18. #21 by johng80 on December 23, 2013 - 4:14 PM

    If you are going to use pictures to say what looks good and what looks bad. Of course a long distance runner at the end of his run is going to look knackered. But picking a drugs cheat as what looks good?!! If I took all the stuff he was on with the training I do I’d look like a muscle freak too. But don’t kid yourself that he has the perfect body that everyone should aim for.

  19. #22 by codyscharfdc on December 23, 2013 - 5:09 PM

    Reblogged this on THRIVE SPINE AND SPORT BLOG and commented:

    This was an article, that I wrote well over a year ago. It was received over 100,000 view in the past 3 days! I thought I would re-post this over on my new site since I no longer post over on BalkTalk. I do have a slightly different outlook on this topic, and admit that I should update this post with sourced information to back some of the claims made in this post, which I fully intend to do! I truly thank you all for reading, sharing, and commenting! Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to write about, or something you would like help with. I invite you to follow over on thrivespineandsportblog.com for my response and changes to the article! Thanks and Happy Holidays!!!

  20. #23 by Pinoy Biomechanics on January 2, 2014 - 3:45 PM

    Vertical ground reaction forces during running is around 2.5 to 3 times the person’s body weight and not 7. Derek you are right that F = ma. However, mass is not the same as weight in physics, W = mg. So during a fall like you mention, the vGRF is not equal to the persons mass. Drop jump landing can reach up to 7 times a person’s body weight.

    I do agree with the article that jogging is a body killer. It should not be the first choice of exercise to lose weight or be healthy. Low impact exercise like swimming is better for your joints. However, if you really like jogging, make sure to progress gradually with your mileage, your running mechanics are right and you are wearing the right footwear.

  21. #24 by codyscharfdc on January 9, 2014 - 5:10 PM

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