One Way Is the Wrong Way: Avoid Running Injuries

July 5, 2015 Updated: July 5, 2015

We have been seeing, addressing and treating this problem for years, far too many years. There are few things that frustrate us more than coaches and athletes who refuse to alternate their track workouts into the clockwise direction to help avoid the repetitious detrimental training effects of continued and repeated counterclockwise track training. 

Here is a study from 2000 that tends to validate a causal link to our point. The study confirms a statistically significant asymmetrical strength development in the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups.  

Imbalances are a frequent and well known cause of injury.  Consciously driving this asymmetry is the equivalent to purposefully encouraging injury if you ask us.  Why anyone would not heed recommendations to balance out workout effects is beyond us.  We encourage road work so that there are no repetitive track banks to negotiate and thus knowingly drive asymmetry.  When weather makes outdoor work an impossibility then days should ideally alternate the flow on the track to counter the direction of the previous day.  And as track event days get closer then the inevitable will occur that you want to simulate race day direction but at least deeply engrained (skill, endurance and strength) training effects in the counterclockwise direction will not terribly risk injury as much as if there had been no training changes and accommodations.

The smaller the track radius the more detrimental the training effects. Frequency and duration of the training further magnifies training effects. A banked track will mute some of the effects but not all of them. 

So why not just reverse the direction of your track training?  And don’t tell is it is logistically too difficult to coordinate, that is a lame excuse. You are training yourself or your athletes to be better runners, so you should want to reduce risks and optimize training effects. Period.

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*Image of “runner” via See-ming Lee.Flickr/CC BY