How to be stealthy

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Are you a loud runner? Do you make a lot of noise when landing and everyone around you knows when you’re coming up on them? When being chased, are you super easy to follow? I’m here to tell you, you can change the way you run in order to run more quietly and make another step towards becoming a stealth ninja.

Runners can permanently reduce impact forces through biofeedback. In a study done by Irene Davis and Harrison Crowell, they used a form of biofeedback to successfully encourage runners to reduce their peak tibial acceleration by half. Peak tibial acceleration is basically a measurement of how hard the runner lands on the ground with each step. And Davis is known as one of the world’s leading pioneers in gait retraining for runners. Gait retraining consists of encouraging specific changes in the strides of runners that correct habits that are associated with increased injury risk.

All of the ten runners in the study started out as stompers. Davis placed an accelerometer to the lower leg of each runner to measure tibial acceleration as they ran on treadmills. The data collected by the accelerometer was displayed on a screen in front of the runners, which allowed them to see a simple graphical display of their impact force. They were told to adjust their running in order to reduce their impact force result by half, bringing it down to normal range.

All of the runners were able to do this. They weren’t told how to change their strides to reduce impact. Instead, they were given the freedom to adjust as they saw fit in order to comfortably reduce their impact force. Over time, Davis took away the “crutch” of the biofeedback until the runners were maintaining their new lower-impact strides on their own, in their own way. Then the runners were sent out into the world with the instructions to continue to run in this way. A month later on recheck, the runners were still maintaining their new strides with lower impact.

This study shows that you can change your gait and stride in order to avoid preventable running injuries. All you really need is some feedback on how much impact you’re creating while running. Since I started out initially as a martial artist and then became a runner, I feel like I’ve never really been a stomper. But that’s only because they train use to be quiet and light on our feet in Kung Fu.

Do you pay attention to your impact force? Do you try to land softly and quietly? Do you try to sneak up on people when you run?

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