Friday, September 28, 2012

Why (MOST) Women Shouldn't Run

So I've wondered this for a while after doing triathlons...... running is hard for me.  If I run too long and too fast, my hips and knees get tight and my body just doesn't like me!  Finally someone has answered why, it's not that I'm just physically unfit .... read article below.  This won't help me with my half-ironman training coming up but I will just have to realize I was made to sprint, not pound away long distances. So it will require some training and SLOWLY getting my body used to the long distance running.

UPDATE: There are ways to correct for your Q angle by strengthening your hips and butt, as well as do some "glute activation" mobility exercises before running.

By Michael Boyle

I really like Diane Lee's quote, "You can't run to get fit, you need to be fit to run." In fact, I've used it in numerous presentations and articles. It really resonates with me. Simple, to the point. I'm going to take the idea one step further. I'm not sure most women should run. When I say this in seminars, it really pisses off the female runners. Sorry, I'm not worried about you; I'm worried about all the other women. If you are a runner and healthy, read on, but realize that you are the exception, not the rule. I'm going to go from bad to worse.

Here's a riddle for you. 
Q- What do most female runners look like?
A- Male runners.Ever ask yourself why? 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Women who run successfully for long periods of time were made to run. They look just like men runners. Good female runners generally do not look like plus-size models. It's not a question of cause and effect; it's a question of natural selection. You can't run to get that cute little runner's body. It's actually reversed. You have to have that cute little runner's body to survive running. 

"She has narrow hips and she has small breast"
Why do I say this? Two simple reasons. Anatomy and physics. My favorite two sciences. No matter how hard you try or how well you eat, you can't change your skeleton. The problem with most women and running comes down to something they call Q angle in sportsmedicine. I won't bore you with the details, but it boils down to this. Wider hips make for narrow knees. This angle of hip to knee creates problems. 

Problems are magnified based on the number of steps. The average person gets about 1500 foot strikes per mile. Do the math on your 5-mile run. Running produces forces in the area of two to five times bodyweight per foot contact. Do we need more math? Let's go back to our elite female runner. Look at her body. You will generally see two things. She has narrow hips and she has small breasts. I know, there may be exceptions, but at the elite level, I doubt it. 

The angle of knee to hip creates problems
One thought process would say, Great, my hips and breasts will decrease in size if I run. The other thought process is more logical. Women with larger breasts and wider hips don't make good runners. It is the same logic as why there are no large gymnasts or figure skaters. Physics. Big people rotate slower. Natural selection rules it out. 

So what happens when a "normal" woman begins to run? 

She becomes a statistic. She becomes a physical-therapy client as she tries to shovel you-know-what against the tide. Her wider knees cause her to develop foot problems or most likely knee problems. Her greater body weight causes greater ground reaction forces. Greater ground reaction forces stress muscle tissue and breast tissue. Get my drift yet? The end result is likely to be hurt and saggy instead of the cute and little. The bottom line: Running is not good for most females. If you want higher-intensity exercise, ride a stationary bike. Take a spin class, use a stairclimber, and don't run.


  1. Katy Bowman, my favorite biomechanical scientist (ok, I don't know of any others), says that the Q angle isn't genetic, it is a result of postural habits. Just another piece of the puzzle to consider. She advocates lots of walking and squatting.

    1. Okay I found these articles they mention the same thing about strengthening the hips and butt if you have a naturally large Q angle: and Seems like the Q angle may be a natural/genetic factor but you can do some work and correct for it. There's some studies that say it isn't a factor though.

      I've had the IT problem when I was training for my long triathlon.