“Running Injury Alternatives – Which One Is Better?”

The efficacy of cross-training for distance runners has been a point of much controversy.

In most instances of intense arguments, the views involved often become extremely polarized.

Some coaches today argue that instead of having their runners do extensive amounts of running, they should cross-train to avoid the risk of injury caused by hard impacts.

Other coaches remain adamant that running is the only way to carry out a satisfactory cardio workout, and that cross-training is not worth the energy. To improve your running, the best way to do so is to get out there and practice frequently.


It is a point of agreement among most parties that it is a good idea for a runner to include other types of exercise as part of their routine, particularly when the individual is trying to rehabilitate from running-related injuries.

Given the situation, choosing an alternative to jogging is an essential part of the progressive recovery plan, and it may also help sustain physical condition when running is once again an option.


If executed accurately, staying positive and driven can help with healing and stopping a feeling of sadness in runners who are injured.

If your injury permits, it is great that you can still exercise in a less frequent, milder, or shorter way. But since you now have extra time, why not pick up a low-impact workout routine to stay in shape and heal your injury?

What Is The Best Cross Training For Runners?

A great deal of the dialogue about which alternatives to running for cardio a healthy runner ought to do for their training comes back to the guideline of specificity in training.

This concept serves to remind us that when we coach our physique to do a particular job, it gets more efficient at that certain undertaking. However, there doesn’t appear to be much improvement in other activities as a result.

Despite making a strong case for cross-training, it should not be forgotten that running remains the most beneficial form of training for runners.

Studies conducted by Pechar et al. (1974) have shown that an eight-week period of treadmill sessions produces greater enhancements in VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake, a marker of endurance performance) in comparison to the same duration of stationary cycling workouts.

Those exercising in the treadmill group had their VO2 max while running on a treadmill improve by 6.8%, while the cyclists only saw their VO2 max when on a treadmill go up by 2.6%.

To sum it up, if you have good cardiovascular fitness you can enhance your running ability, but the gains achieved by doing so will be minor compared to those gained by running itself.

The key to efficient and cost-effective running is mastering the coordination and control of your muscles so that they move correctly and remain in that pattern over a certain amount of time.

You might be wondering:

How can I run faster?

The only way to accomplish this is to repeatedly perform the action.

By running.

Cross-training can help get you in shape, but rest is also important for your running. Too much cross-training, however, can negate the progress you have made in improving your running.

Does biking help run?

Think about this:

Cycling is essentially a quad-related movement.

Biking can be beneficial for runners who are trying to rehab an injury as it works and strengthens the thigh muscles. However, when deciding between running or cycling, the efficiency of a runner’s movements relies heavily on the proper use of their glute and hamstring muscles.

What Is The Best Cross Training For Injured Runners?

What about when we don’t have any other option except to lower the amount of running we do, or maybe even quit running for a bit?

The principle of specificity will still hold true, which explains the positive outcomes seen with aqua jogging, however, a fresh element will come into play when deciding on activities.

We have to figure out the best exercises for enhancing running that won’t cause additional harm and hinder the recovery process.

This may not be as evident as it appears.

No pain is observed while running with certain runner injuries, mainly those concerning tendinopathy, possibly not even until after the run and in some cases not until the following day.

Cross-Training For Other Running Injuries


What is it?

AlterG stands for Anti-Gravity Treadmill. It was first created by NASA to allow astronauts to remain strong and hold their bone mass while they were in outer space since due to long exposure to weightlessness they were losing weight and bone density. The solution? A pressurized air chamber to simulate some gravitational load. It was later acknowledged that lessening gravity’s effect could be really helpful for people on the ground — especially those who need to put less strain on their legs or feet, like those who have been hurt while playing sports. NASA’s solution was reworked so that the AlterG treadmill would use the differential air pressure system currently in operation.

How Does it Work?

The AlterG includes a pair of shorts and a sort of kayak cover which goes around the top. Move towards the AlterG treadmill from the rear, pull up a large encasing chamber that covers the lower half of the body and fastens the zipper onto the skirt that attaches to the shorts, forming a tight closure. The intensity of the pressure can then be decreased, so you can begin with 100% of your body weight and move down to 20%, switching in one per cent increments. Some of the machines use detectors and video cameras to give readings on gait, a distance of strides, rhythm, equilibrium, and other measurements. This could possibly be utilized to aid in the regulation and direction of your recovery and exercise routine, either by yourself or with the help of therapists or coaches.

Aqua Jogging

What is it?

This type of exercise is referred to as water running, pool running, or aqua jogging. Unlike water aerobics, it is a viable alternative to running but with much less impact since the water (rather than a pressurized tank) alleviates the full weight of gravity. Water running can be a part of a regular workout schedule to help the body heal from the strain of exercise, as well as to work on technique and conditioning. The liquid likewise provides resistance, though without any force of impact.

How Does it Work?

Typically, instead of running on the floor of the pool, you usually don’t do it (but you can if you want to, it’s just not the usual way to begin). Generally, water running takes place in deep water and propels oneself forward with a running motion to remain buoyant. Due to the difficulty of staying afloat while swimming, utilizing a flotation belt can be beneficial to increase buoyancy and allow the swimmer to focus on their stroke, as well as increase their heart rate for cardio exercise. Concentrating on keeping the proper form is the key element that can be directly applied to running outside of the pool. Beware of making yourself think you’re going forward in the water by using small techniques, such as cupping your hands while sculling. A flotation belt can be a useful tool when trying to avoid this.

Aqua Jogging Pros:

  • Lower cost, since you probably have access to a pool already.
  • Limited equipment, with just a flotation belt necessary.
  • Gives you the ability to work on technique and keep the neuromuscular memory.

Aqua Jogging Cons:

  • It can be very (very) mind-numbing and boring. Would recommend using headphones.
  • Finding a pool deep enough can sometimes be tricky or one that will let your water run back and forth in the deep end.
  • Some find it hard to see the connection between aqua jogging and translating it to real running outside. This can often be if you’re not getting the form right.

Lever Runner

What is it?

The Lever Runner is akin to the AlterG in that it reduces the amount of body weight you carry. A lever system is used to suspend a runner on a treadmill slightly above the belt, providing support to the body by utilizing a skeleton frame and an elastic cord. You can lose up to approximately 45 pounds from your weight. This implies that you can exercise on a treadmill, but with a decreased strain on your muscles and joints, thus making it useful in recovering from an injury or sustaining intense exercise while lessening the risk of injury.

How Does it Work?

The Lever Runner is used alongside neoprene shorts which have two nylon pulleys positioned on the sides. It is relatively easy to construct the frame and secure it to the arms of the treadmill using straps. A bungee cord is strung from the front of the frame, routed through the pulleys attached to either side of the shorts, and then run through two pulleys connected to the rear of the frame. The tighter you pull the bungee cord before fastening it, the more weight is relieved. It’s just as if you were a tiny infant in a baby swing, sprinting on the exercise machine.

Lever Runner Pros:


  • Very easy to build yourself and fit onto most treadmills.
  • It also packs up easily, so you can take it with you to a gym or as you travel. (That means you don’t have to also buy a treadmill.)

Lever Runner Cons:

  • Compared to the AlterG, the Lever can only reduce your body weight up to 45 pounds. 
  • The current system for figuring out how much weight you’ve removed is just painted markers on the bungee cord that do wear off with time. A better and more accurate system is being developed.
  • Only fits treadmills with arms. Adaptors are available for the Woodway.

What Are Good Alternatives To Running If You Are Easily Injured?

If you often wonder:

What if I am injury prone?

If I take some time to go cycling, I don’t think I’ll be running faster than someone who spends more time running, but I can avoid physical injuries as I’m running fewer miles.

The jury has yet to render a decision and there are multiple resources available that examine the advantages and disadvantages.

Most people agree that as you get close to a race, it is prudent to minimize cross-training so that your effort is concentrated on preparing your body and brain for the specific demands of the race, rather than those of a different type of sport.


Cross-training provides many of the benefits needed while recovering from injury, such as allowing for a well-planned rehab process, keeping fitness levels up, and providing motivation to stay positive.

What are some beneficial cross-training exercises for runners? It is significant what kind of injury you are getting better from.

Making the wrong selection when trying to recover from an injury can make it take longer and worsen the condition, so it would be sensible to consult with an expert in treating running injuries to have a fast healing experience.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button