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RUNNING IS NOT A GOOD BONE-BUILDING ACTIVITY

If you’re looking to improve your bone health, adding plyometrics & strength training to your routine can help tremendously.

Running is a huge part of many of our lives & has a multitude of positive physical & psychological effects, but it’s just not a good way to build bone.

Optimal bone-building stimuli appears to be everything distance running is not: high-impact, short-duration loads with plenty of recovery in between. 

Bone gets stronger via short bouts of high-impact loading. After just 20 loading cycles, bone loses >95% of its sensitivity to loading - meaning that after less than a minute of running, the bone cells are no longer responding in a way that leads to stronger bones. 

Distance running is a repetitive, low-impact stimulus, so bone cells desensitize and stop responding to it pretty quickly. They do, however, resensitize after a period of rest - studies show resensitization occurs around 4-8 hours after a bout of loading. 

So if you’re trying to improve bone health, just running isn’t going to cut it - bone cells need more excitement.

This doesn’t mean you have to trade in your running shoes for lifting shoes - you can have it all by adding short bouts of resistance training & plyometrics into your routine (provided it’s gradually & appropriately progressed, of course!)

Here are some principles for exercise that optimize bone-building:

  • High-impact, multidirectional loads e.g. plyometrics

  • Low rep, heavy strength training

  • Short duration, high frequency sessions

  • 4-8 hour recovery periods

Looking for a running + strength program that accounts for bone health & history of bone injury? Check out options for either virtual or hybrid BSI rehab here & schedule a free phone consult below!

References

Warden, S. J., Edwards, W. B., & Willy, R. W. (2021). Preventing bone stress injuries in runners with optimal workload. Current osteoporosis reports, 19(3), 298-307.

Turner, C. H., & Robling, A. G. (2003). Designing exercise regimens to increase bone strength. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 31(1), 45-50.

Robling, A. G., Burr, D. B., & Turner, C. H. (2001). Recovery periods restore mechanosensitivity to dynamically loaded bone. Journal of Experimental Biology, 204(19), 3389-3399

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