Book Summary: Anatomy For Runners
This book in three sentences.
There is much more to running than just lacing up your shoes and going for a run. Your body must be prepared for balance, anti-rotation, and repeating the same movement again and again. With the correct amount of pre-hab, re-hab, and good technique, you can run a lifetime without injury.
Anatomy for Runners Summary
This is my book summary of Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry. These notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary may include key lessons and important passages from the book.
“Running is just moving the body’s center of mass forward while doing a bunch of single-leg squats. Single-leg balance is pretty close to the single-leg stance phase of running.”
“Running is a skill.”
“Running is a great way to strengthen the cardiovascular system and the muscles that move us forward in one plane. However, running does not directly strengthen the muscles that stabilize us in the lateral and rotational planes. These muscles are critical to injury and performance potential. We create imbalance as the muscles that propel us forward get a much larger training stimulus to improve than the muscles that stabilize us. The more time and focus we give one thing, the worse we get at everything else.”
“Most problems in overuse injury result from an inability to stabilize the rotational and frontal plane alignment of the joint as it moves though a normal path.”
Keep this list in front of you as a reminder for the requisites of running: 1)Enough motion to get your leg behind your body 2) Postural stability 3) Strength and power of the glutes to drive the body upward and forward.
If you find deficits in these areas, consider stretching your quadriceps and hip flexors, strengthening your torso, and strengthening your glutes. You may also need to address stiff feet, ankles, and calves. Mr. Dicharry provides an entire section of his fine book outlining corrective exercises.
Also consider Mr. Dicharry’s physical assessment for runners. If you cannot complete the simple movements within his test, you probably shouldn’t go running. Once you address your specific issues, you may consider building your running skills gradually.
“Backwards running and heel lift drills should be mandatory each and every run. Regular skipping is a great way to emphasize lift without contacting too far in front of the body’s center of mass. Run from the butt, not the quads.”
“Runners run, and oftentimes aimlessly, which leads to injury or sub-optimal performance.”
“The goal of running is to keep one’s dynamic alignment in check with your structural alignment.”
“Your body has parts—what specific things are you doing on a routine basis to make sure they perform as intended?”
“Spreading the toes does three things. It improves the leverage of the forefoot, optimizes position of the big toe to improve muscle activation, and also keeps tissues in the plantar fascia mobile. These attributes are beneficial no matter what kind of foot you have.”
“(Yes, three minutes is how long research shows we need to hold stretches for tissues that are too short.) It can take 10–12 weeks to improve soft tissue length.”
The concepts in this book make it very clear to me why I had so many painful issues during my running days. Now I understand, and hope to share with others, that proper running requires practice.
Good mobility through the shoulders, low back, hips, knees, ankles, feet, and toes are necessary. This is why yoga plays such an important role in offsetting the repetitive nature of running (my opinion).
Practicing good technique during the run is critical (mindfulness).
Strength in the glutes is needed.
Dynamic stability through the core is a must.
Slow and steady wins the race … even in running.
You’ve got this!
Special thanks to James Clear for inspiring me to write book summaries using his method and outline.