UPMC Study Finds Cross-Training Benefits Runners’ BMI and Movement Control

By: Madison Brunner

UPMC Study Finds Cross-Training Benefits Runners’ BMI and Movement ControlUPMC researchers found runners who cross-train demonstrate fewer abnormal movements during common tasks and have a lesser body mass index (BMI).

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.

Athletes interested in a cross-training program are encouraged to consult with one of the professionals at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex or UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.