2018-01-03 / Home

Running 101: Good form and technique prevents injury

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD
Voice staff

Almost anybody can take up running and reap the physical, psychological and, yes, spiritual benefits – as long as they follow good form and avoid common but crippling mistakes, according to Owen Anderson, Rabbis Can Run advisor.

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“Running is so great for almost every aspect of human life,” said Anderson, a prolific writer on the topic of running who also coaches elite athletes at his training facility in Lansing, Mi. “I think that so many people will be inspired by what these rabbis are doing. They will realize that they can do it too.”

Done right, running’s benefits go far beyond they physical realm. It sharpens mental acuity, boosts confidence, relieves stress and wards off depression, among many other proven positives. As a whole, runners have a more optimistic outlook on life and tend to be community builders, he said. Done wrong, running is disastrous.

“We know from practice and scientific research that running, as is currently practiced, is a high injury sport. Seventy percent of runners get injured; it’s worse than pro football.”

Anderson’s job is to help participating rabbis safely build up to their goal for the Jerusalem marathon. The author of “Running Form: How to Run Faster and Prevent Injury,” he stresses injury-prevention techniques, such as landing on the mid-foot rather than the heel.

“About 95 percent of runners are heal strikers, which is a key contributor to injury,” noted Anderson, who has a PhD in biology. “The human heal is not meant to absorb the shock.”

He also advises new runners to being with exercises that emphasize landing on the heel instead of stretching, which should be done after the actual run to help with the transition back to sedentary life.

Dr. David H. Rosmarin, director of the spirituality and mental health program at McLean Hospital in Belmont Ma, said one of the most striking aspects of Rabbis Can Run is that it promotes the notion that spiritual and physical growth go hand and hand.

“We literally can’t have enough programs that promote spiritual and physical wellness,” said Rosmarin, a practicing Jew and runner whose research focuses on the epidemic of mental health and substance abuse in American society.

“It’s amazing that a program that takes care of the whole human being like this is promoted,” he said. “It can be extremely transformative for both the participants and the broader community. If only more faith communities took an approach like this, I think we’d see a lot less pain and emotional suffering.”

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