How To Run Without Stressing Knees: Backward
No, this is not a script for a Saturday Night Live comedy skit, but it could be. Researchers at Cardiff University in the UK have figured out how to run with minimal stress on knee joints: in reverse. That’s right. A Cardiff news release reports that researchers analyzed the stresses on knee joints of runners running both backwards and forwards at a speed of 2.8 to 3.4 meters per second. Data was collected by placing reflective markers on the participants’ legs, video recording the session with infrared cameras and then assessing the gait using computer software. The force exerted when the foot hits the ground was measured using force plates under the floor. Good news: By running backwards, the researchers found, compressive forces behind the knee cap were reduced, at any running speed. The researchers do not envision sidewalks crowded with the injury-averse running in reverse, but they do suggest that backwards running might become a useful part of the rehabilitation of runners with injured knees. Once the runners return to health, they would also return to running forwards. Or not. Read more from Cardiff University.