Does a low BMI actually mean more running injuries?
Plenty of conventional wisdom abounds when it comes to avoiding more running injuries. One of the most common strategies is to keep body weight down. It’s true that runners tend to move faster and more efficiently when they are carrying less weight. Unfortunately, new findings suggest women develop more running injuries at lower weights, and struggle to recover in a timely fashion.
What is BMI?
BMI is known to be a general tool that is an indicator of health as determined by body weight in relation to height. It is not universally applicable but serves well as a general guide. The average woman sits at BMI 26, which is technically considered overweight. Many female runners measure between BMI 20-24. These weights are considered healthy. More running injuries tend to occur when BMI is measured at 19 or below, which is considered close to underweight. It’s thought that the lower weights indicate lower lean muscle mass along with less body fat overall.
The role of muscle
Muscles play a significant role in supporting runner’s bones and insulating them from the repeated shock of foot strikes on hard surfaces. This occurs alongside providing the propulsion and stability that running requires. When lean mass is reduced, the rate of injury is much higher as the forces of impact are not dispersed as well. Both the frequency and severity of injuries were increased for runners with a BMI of 19 or below. Very thin athletes also take far longer to heal in comparison to slightly heavier female runners.
Building lean muscle mass
Sports scientists suggest that to avoid more running injuries, women should take care to maintain lean muscle mass. Cross training, resistance training and bodyweight exercises may help to develop more muscle overall. A diet that is higher in protein may also aid the body in building new fibres. Muscle is much denser than body fat and tends to sit closely next to bones. Gaining muscle will help to maintain a lean physique, and power athletes through runs while supporting their overall health. Higher amounts of muscle in lieu of body-fat should also help to provide more balance and propulsion during races, along with protection against stress injuries.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical-related decisions based solely on information found on this site.