Can AI predict injury risk? Can professionals?

Have you been convinced to try to change your running form because someone insists something about your form is sure to cause injury? How did that work for you?

For what seems like my entire running life, I’ve always heard about how certain aspects of one’s running form are sure to cause injuries. Some of the advice I’ve heard or read about is so contradictory that it would seem that we’re all bound to get injured on a monthly basis because, no matter what you do, you’ll find someone who will tell you that’s bound to cause injury in short order.

But is all of this actually true?

What if we ask computers?

AI can categorize form but can’t predict injuries based on form. It does a great job of correctly placing runners into categories based on their form. However, it can’t predict injury risk based on form.

What if we ask the experts?

Experienced coaches and sports medicine professionals also can’t predict injuries based on a popular injury risk assessment. Using a test that is commonly used for predicting injury risk, even the experts can’t predict injury risk.

What does all of this mean? It means all of our bodies have different ways of moving, also sometimes called our movement signature. This is how someone who knows you well can spot you based on your running form before you’re close enough for them to know who you are by seeing your face.

There are exceptions but, generally speaking, your body finds the best way for it to move and, without major efforts involving far more than thinking about moving differently, your injury risk will actually go up if you try to change your form.

Other things I’ve been reading recently:

Higher VO2max isn’t always better. With higher VO2max comes lower efficiency. Just a reminder that running fitness is very complex and multi-faceted. A comprehensive training plan is necessary to be your best.

Study: Don’t use ice baths for recovery. We’ve seen studies like this before. Here’s another one.

Could marathoning be good for your knees? We’ve also seen studies like this before. When will people accept that running is generally good, not bad, for your knees?

Saunas have benefits but those benefits aren’t free. There are definitely benefits, especially for anyone training in a cold climate for a warm weather race. However, they do add stress to the body and that stress does need to be accounted for in your training plan.

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