Book Review: Anatomy for Runners

Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention
by Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS
2012

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Did you know that 82% of runners get injured? I knew that the percentage would likely be pretty high, but I didn’t think it would be quite that high! In Anatomy for Runners, Jay Dicharry aims to help those 82% (as well as the remaining 18%!) get to the root cause of injuries so that they can treat the problems – not just the symptoms – and hopefully prevent other injuries.

To be honest, I forget where I heard about this book… Runner’s World? Fitness magazine? A blog post somewhere? Wherever it was, it was the “injury prevention” in the subtitle that really caught my eye. God knows I could use some help with that! The letters after the author’s name (MPT = Master of Physical Therapy; SCS = Sports Clinical Specialist) as well as his author bio made me feel pretty confident that he knows what he’s talking about.

Continuing with the honesty, this book was a slog. It was fascinating, but it took me much longer than expected to finish it. The first few chapters were incredibly technical (at least for a former English major like me); Dicharry really went in-depth while discussing microanatomy and biomechanics, and at times I felt like I was reading a pre-med textbook. How muscles and other soft tissues work is fascinating, like I said, but this was probably not the best choice of book to dive into immediately after finishing a YA fiction novel!

After the introductory chapters where Dicharry explains how the body works, he begins to explain the finer points of running biomechanics such as soft tissue mobility, gait, and how different kinds of running shoes affect the way you run (this chapter was especially interesting to me!). The end of the book was my favorite – it included an assessment test to pinpoint any weak spots in your body that could affect your running, and then a bunch of stretching and strengthening exercises to help improve your overall form. Clear instructions and photos were provided for both the assessment test and the exercises:

Posture test

Posture test

Glute exercises

Glute exercises

Despite the fact that reading it cover-to-cover was a slog for me, I learned quite a bit from this book. There were a few things that Dicharry repeated a lot and it made me a bit eye-rolly after a while, and there were one or two things he wrote that go against what I’ve heard from other sources (for example: using orthotics isn’t a great idea since your feet become dependent on them and grow weaker (my orthopedist told me I probably needed them!), and that taking short strides isn’t much better than long strides) so I’m not completely sure what to believe there. Dicharry did keep saying that every runner is different, though, and that what he says might not work for everyone. So that seems legit.

I’d definitely recommend this book… maybe not as a page-turner (unless you’re really into anatomy and biomechanics, in which case you should love it) but as a reference. I borrowed this copy from the library, but am planning to buy my own copy because I found the assessment and exercises chapters really useful. After finishing the book, I do feel like I have a much better grasp on how different parts of my body affect my running, and now I want to make sure they’re strong and primed to help me run my best!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Anatomy for Runners

  1. That’s pretty cool. I kind of want to go see a chiro, cause I’m pretty sure one of my legs is longer than the other, which causes all kinds of weird stuff. My mom’s right leg is a full inch longer, and she ended up with bursitis in her hip that causes chronic pain. Oy! I’d like to do whatever I can to figure out what’s wrong before I get really injured. May need to pick this book up at the library!

    • You should definitely grab it from the library! I found the assessment test really helpful… now I know what areas are weak (core, hamstrings, left hip) and some exercises to help make them stronger. I don’t remember the book covering anything specifically about leg length, but hopefully you’ll find it helpful!

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