Running

Main cause of knee strain is wrong technique, not surface of park connector paths

The writer suggests that those who wish to run on softer surfaces can run on the grass patch alongside the park connector network, at stadium tracks or in places like the Bedok or MacRitchie reservoirs which have off-road surfaces.
The writer suggests that those who wish to run on softer surfaces can run on the grass patch alongside the park connector network, at stadium tracks or in places like the Bedok or MacRitchie reservoirs which have off-road surfaces.ST FILE PHOTO

As someone who runs marathons and who has put in at least 10km almost every day since my teens, yet has never had a knee issue, I want to share my thoughts about Mr Timothy Ang Li-Yang's call for softer running surfaces (Have softer surfaces on more park connector pathways for running, Jan 11).

First, many people view knee problems as an inevitable outcome of frequent running. This need not be the case.

The real reason for knee injuries from running is that many people run with the wrong technique: Some land with knees insufficiently angled for better cushioning; some run with too much up-down motion, which adds unnecessary impact to the knees; while others run with their knees turned slightly outwards, away from the forward direction. The deviation may be small, but over time, it all adds up.

In essence, for efficient and injury-free distance running, our centre of gravity should mimic the movement of a rolling ball: no unnecessary ups and downs or sideways movement, which inevitably contribute to needless impact as well as energy wasted.

Also, in land-scarce Singapore, every inch of space is premium.

Currently, the hard surfaces in our park connectors serve three groups: those who cycle, walk or run. The addition of a gravel track will be at the expense of green spaces.

And if part of the existing track is converted, walkers and cyclists might avoid it.

Road running takes place on hard surfaces. For the few who wish to run on softer surfaces, a few readily available solutions already exist: running on the grass patch alongside the park connector network, running at stadium tracks or in places like the Bedok or MacRitchie reservoirs which have off-road surfaces.

Our resources being finite, it is important to identify the underlying issues correctly and apply the right solutions, or we could be coming up with knee-jerk solutions, which may create their own set of problems.

Peh Chwee Hoe

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2021, with the headline 'Main cause of knee strain is wrong technique, not surface of park connector paths'. Subscribe