The Bionic ‘Runner’ – Answers to an Injured Runner’s Prayers?

If you’ve been injured for the best part of five months like I have, then something that claims to be the world’s the only non-impact fitness trainer to mimic the natural gait and timing of running tends to catch the eye. The only difference is instead of actually doing any form of cross training, I’ve sat on my lazy ass for those five months.

Regardless of my laziness, the Bionic Runner caught my eye because the timing from their marketing department was good. Having just published the story on Mick Thwaites last week, it appears that old Mickey boy was using this tool on his comeback trail late last year / earlier this year after a stress fracture.

What’s more, this nifty little weapon has been created by an Aussie company, so being an Australian-based website, I feel we have a sense of duty to stick these guys on the stage a little! When I first looked at this ‘bike’, it reminded me of those fold-up bikes I used to see London-suited businessmen ride on their way to catching a tube in the morning while I walked alongside the banks of the River Thames near Hammersmith many moons ago.

Motivated by the certainty that there was a better way to train, the Aussie business, run4 have spent the last few years developing this tool to help change the overwhelming statistics – that around 80% of runners will become injured each and every year.

Run4 claim that the Bionic Runner can proactively prevent running injuries. “Most running injuries are caused by overuse—applying repeated force over a prolonged period of time,” explains Steve Cranitch, top man at run4.

“Sudden changes in training volume can also do some damage, all adding up to inflammation, irritation and, ultimately, pain that prevents you from running. The injury rates incurred by runners always struck me as alarming,” adds Steve, who witnessed a number of his friends abandon running altogether and instead turn to cycling. “For people who love running, cycling – or indeed any form of indoor cross training – isn’t really an adequate alternative, so we set out to find a way for runners to improve their training and remove the risk of injury.”

The Bionic Runner was launched via a successful crowd funding campaign around a year ago. “Unlike an elliptical trainer, the Bionic Runner has a unique patent-pending 60% swing and 40% stance phase timing, which guides the foot along the path of a mid-foot running gait,” explains Steve. “Basically, you not only look and feel as if you’re running, you engage the same muscles as you would pounding the pavement, too, which sets the Bionic Runner apart from any other cross trainer in the market.”

It also features a non-impact closed kinetic chain, which it claims can help eliminate the risk of injury from impact fatigue and joint over extension – the two most common causes of joint, tendon and muscle-related strain injuries.

Now there’s an awful lot of claims here, and it appears as though those who have used it speak very highly of it. But it appears as though there been some research done in peer-reviewed journals. Data published in the Australian Journal of Strength and Conditioning shows that, whether using the Bionic Runner for interval, Fartlek, tempo or hill sessions, the runner offers the same intensity as conventional running – without the risk of injury from over extension or impact fatigue.

Maybe I’ll have to go out of my way to grab one and see what all the fuss is about given my injury run of late.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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