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Running is a popular recreational exercise that has positive effects on health and fitness. This is a solidary sport practiced by many with the goal of improved cardio-respiratory function in mind
Healthcare providers recommend some form of exercise routine to prevent the chronic diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle and to improve overall well-being.

The risk of injuries related to running is high, with research showing a variable rate of 30 to 79%. This wide range is said to be related to differences in injury definition, time of follow up, differences in population at risk, and differences in methods used to assess running-related injuries. Few studies exist related to the prevention of injuries, however. Reasons for the occurrence of sports injuries are related to the increase of the intensity of activity, the type of activity, or the timing of the activity.

The Ten Percent Rule is an easy method of gauging your training increase so that you get the most out of your workouts while avoiding injury. This rule is used by fitness experts and beginners alike to avoid injury and enhance performance. This guideline specifies that you should not increase your activity more than ten percent per week. For runners, this is measured in mileage. Many experts believe that ten percent is too much for beginners. No scientific evidence exists proving this guideline to be accurate. Therefore, they recommend a five percent increase when someone is new to exercise. The origin of the Ten Percent Rule is unknown. The director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Carl Foster, says it “is lost in history” and “is undocumented.”

No standard is without criticism and controversy and the Ten Percent Rule is no exception. A group of researchers, headed by Dr. Buist in the Netherlands, found that this guideline did not reduce the number of running-related injuries in beginners. Furthermore, this study showed that around 20% of runners following the Ten Percent Rule sustained injuries, as did 20% of those who did more intense training. Dr. Buist stated, “…it does not matter how you get there, the risk of sustaining a running-related injury is the same.” Fitness experts argue that this standard is too general and unscientific to be used dependably. The person’s current state of health, weight, exercise background, and genetics should all be taken into account and the rate at which a runner can increase his or her level of training should be individualized.

So, what should we do? Follow the rule or not? First of all, no advice is more valuable than that of a qualified healthcare professional. Always clear your activity plan with your doctor. Next, keep your focus and motivation to run in sight. Dwelling on the risk of injury could get in your way of exercising. Start low and go slow. Don’t overdo it. Have fun. And just run.

  • About.Com Sports Medicine Website:
  • Buist, I., Bredewe, S.W., Lemmic, K., Pepping, G., Zwerver, J., van Mchelen, W., and Diercks, R.L. (2008). No effect of a graded training program on the number of running-related injuries in novice runners: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 36(1). Retrieved from:
  • Buist, I., Bredewe, S.W., Lemmic, K., Pepping, G., Zwerver, J., van Mchelen, W., and Diercks, R.L. (2007). The GRONORUN Study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 8(24). Retrieved from:
  • Photo courtesy of yourdon on Flickr:

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