I’m in the middle of a crazy busy couple of weeks right now with traveling over 20,000 miles in a little over a month. Consequently, my posts may be a little shorter than usual for a while. But one post that I’ve been meaning to get out for some time is my review of Jay Dicharry’s Anatomy for Runners, which I think should be on the bookshelves of every older runner or multisport athlete out there. Because time is of the essence in my life right now, I’ll keep this review short and sweet.By way of background, Jay Dicharry is something of a legend in the Pacific Northwest. Every physical therapist up here who is worth their salt knows or has heard of him. In conversations with my physical therapist, I understand that he is a bit unique in the world of physical therapy– both a researcher and a clinician (apparently, it’s exceedingly rare to find a PT who does both). He runs a biomechanics lab with a purpose-built force-plate treadmill. He can probably tell you more about how great runners run (or should run) than anyone else on the planet.
So when I heard through the grapevine that Jay was righting a book on running, I pre-ordered it on Amazon Prime. It arrived right before I headed out to the 2012 Duathlon World Championships in Nancy, France and I told myself I could start reading it right after the race (never introduce a new concept right before a race). On the way back, I studied each page carefully. The first 200 pages or so are useful but not essential reading. It’s not to say that it’s worthless– it’s just not the real meat of the book. The first 200 pages or so sets forth background information and Jay’s ideas about how the body works. It helps make sense of the rest of the book but if you’re pressed for time, you can save it for later.
The reason to buy the book is Chapters 9-10, which starts on page 181. Starting on that page, Jay gives you a series of 10 simple tests that you can do alone or with your physical therapist. Each test will assess your ability in a particular skill or quality needed for running. Fail any test and Jay gives you a simple table that tells you the one or two exercises to do to correct it presented in two graduated phases. Chapter 10 then describes each of the corrective exercises identified in Chapter 9 in excruciating detail.
When it comes right down to it, athletes need a very simple plan for taking care of their injuries and building strength to prevent future injuries. The plan has to be specific, of course, to their unique circumstances and particular weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Jay’s book gives you that plan in a simple four-step program:
- Do the test in chapter 9
- Find the appropriate exercises by looking at the table at the end of chapter 9
- Do those exercises (descriptions in chapter 10)
My only critique of the book is that it could use some of the more advanced mobility work described by Kelly Starrett in such books as The Supple Leopard and Ready to Run– his answer to Anatomy for Runners. Those books, however, are for future posts. In the meantime, Anatomy for Runners is the most important running book and running injury prevention book on the market today. It also has to be one the cheapest running books today, costing only $10.94 on Amazon. Buy the book and do the test at least twice a year.
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