The results of the study, led by UPMC physical therapist Brittany Lynch, determined the correlation by testing the effect of cross-training on musculoskeletal profiles of runners training for a running event. They will be presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting in February.
Participants included 81 runners from a local running club who were training for various running events, including a 5K, four-person marathon relay, half-marathon and full-marathon. All participants completed a musculoskeletal screen assessing upper and lower abdominal strength, lower extremity strength and flexibility.
The research team compared BMI, number of runs per week, running mileage, and frequency of musculoskeletal impairments between cross-trainers and non-cross-trainers.
Cross-trainers, or individuals who self-reported cross-training with aerobic, resistance and flexibility training, didn’t run more frequently or more miles per week than non-cross-trainers, but did have a lesser BMI. Additionally, cross-training was strongly associated with fewer musculoskeletal impairments. Runners who cross-trained also had much better control of their trunk during single-leg tasks, which can reduce injury risk overall.
Runners can improve their movement patterns and reduce their musculoskeletal impairments by devoting time to resistance, flexibility or other forms of aerobic training, thus reducing their risk for injury, Lynch said. This is possible without compromising running mileage or overall training volume.