Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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The Science of Bone Health for Runners ft. Rich Willy, DPT, PhD

Doctors of Running Podcast, Episode 160

Bone injuries such as stress reactions and fractures plague many a runner. It's often a challenge to find their source and rehab can be long. Matt is joined by Rich Willy to discuss his research and work in bone health and injuries in runner (particularly ultra-runners). Rich's insights will help you better understand the cause of common bone stress in the foot, lower or upper leg, hip, etc. He and Matt discuss the critical role food and fueling play in our bone health. Rich also gives some practical exercises to try to reduce your injury risk. Finally, what role do shoes play in bone injuries? Not as much as you may think. Tune in and be sure to check out Rich's work!


Listen to This Week's Podcast Here!

Direct Links: Apple | Spotify | Anchor


0:00 - Intro 
6:24 - Defining "health" for distance runners 
11:11 - The difference between bone density and bone health 
21:28 - Linking food and fueling with bone health 
38:57 - Strength-training for bone health 
47:54 - Footwear and bone injury risk 
1:08:58 - Taking a holistic view of bone injury risk 
1:15:04 - Wrap-up

About Rich Willy

Rich is Montana Running Lab’s scientist and educator. He’s an internationally known speaker on the treatment of running-related injuries who has more than 20 years’ experience as a physical therapist. His expertise is in treating runners of all ages and ability levels, including professional and elite runners. Rich’s research aims to develop clinically effective treatments for common running-related injuries, such as patellofemoral pain, Achilles tendon injuries, and bone stress injuries. He’s published 65 peer-reviewed papers on two populations: endurance runners and the military. Among his papers, Rich is the first author of the recent Patellofemoral Pain Clinical Practice Guideline. His research has been funded by the United States Department of Defense, the Foundation for Physical Therapy, and the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. Rich and his work are regularly featured in mainstream publications, such as Runner’s World and Outside Magazine. He received his PhD in Biomechanics and Movement Science from the University of Delaware and his Master of Physical Therapy from Ohio University. In addition to Montana Running Lab, Rich is an Associate Professor in the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana.

Recent Episodes

#159: This or That! | Link
(Andrea and Megan chat about your viewer provided topics)

#158: Buy or Sell! | Link
(The team debates adidas' $500 shoe and more)

#157: Shoe Rotations! |
(David breaks down how to build a shoe rotation

#156: Mailbag! | Link
une in for a couple shoe comparisons: the Boston 12 against several other similar options, and the Endorphin Elite vs. the Vaporfly 3. )

#155: The Maximalist Episode | Link
(We debate what maximalism is in 2023)

#154: Ashley Mateo, Running Journalism | Link
(Running journalist Ashley Mateo joins for a conversation on sources)

#153: Bloodwork, Biomarkers, and Vitamins for Runners | Link
Doctors Liz Herman and Jared Pistoia break down the science of our blood)

Check out some of our favorite episodes!

#154: Ashley Mateo, Running Journalism | Link
(Running journalist Ashley Mateo joins for a conversation on sources)

#138: The Latest Findings on Super Shoes | Link
(Geoff Burns and Dustin Joubert share research on super shoes for slower runners)

#123: Amelia Boone, 4x World Champion in Obstacle Course Racing |
(Andrea and Megan have a fun and insightful conversation on OCR, injuries, and eating disorder with the Queen of Pain, Amelia Boone)

#111: Mastering the Art of Running Over 40
| Link

(Digging into Chief Editor Matt Klein's academic work, he and Andrea discuss the science of running at an older age. They cover a lot of ground from injuries to injury prevention.)

#95/96: Science of Footwear Design/Biomechanics with Saucony | Link (95)/ Link (96)
(In these episodes, we got a chance to speak with the footwear designers at Saucony to go in-depth on the design process there year-in and year-out. High level conversation on shoe design!)

Recently at Doctors of Running

Newton Isaac - Newton's first high cushion shoe!
Monday Shakeout: Shoe Rotations for Different Runners
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 - A snug, nimble trailer runner for speedy trails
Monday Shakeout: Strength Training to Prevent Injury - A Case Study
Brooks Beast GTS 23 - The highest level stability shoe in the market today
Brooks Cascadia 17 - A great trail shoe for easy runs, hiking, and walking

Follow Doctors of Running on Social Media

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LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
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Podcast: Virtual Roundtable

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