Why Walk?


For years we've said that walking is safer than running. Personally, I switched to race walking because running caused me too many problems with my knees. However, do the studies back up claims that race walking causes less injuries than running? You bet!

According to Sports Med. 1992 Nov;14(5):320-35 The average recreational runner, who is steadily training and who participates in a long distance run every now and then, the overall yearly incidence rate for running injuries varies between 37 and 56%.Recurrence of running injuries was reported in 20 to 70% of the cases. How does that compare to race walking? First, we must couch any conclusions by recognizing that race walking has not been studied as extensively as runner. Still, the studies support our theory. According to the Journal of Athletic Training, 1998 "The "average" race walker suffers one injury for every 6.4 years of participation." That's an incredibly low rate of 0.156 injuries per year per person. They also found that the incidence of injury is similar between men and women. Similarly, a six month study by Byrnes and McCullagh compared the injury rate of runners to high intensity walkers—80% maximum heart rate for both groups.  The runners lost an average of 11.1 days of training while the walkers lost only 1.5 days during the 28 weeks.  Runners spent more than seven times as much time recovering from injuries.


Other journals also support that runner has higher injury rates than race walking. The Journal of Athletic Training (1998 Apr-Jun; 33(2): 122–129.) showed even lower rates of injuries: "Race walking participation peaks in the 30- to 39-year-old age group, while the proportion of injured participants is greatest in those under 30. Most injuries involved the lower extremity, but the “average” race walker suffered only one serious injury every 51.7 years."

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