Interview with Ironstrength Creator Dr. Jordan Metzl
As a runner chances are you’ve either heard the name Dr. Jordan Metzl or participated in one of his popular Ironstrength workout sessions that take place throughout NYC. A dedicated athlete - he’s completed 12 Ironman triathlons and 33 marathons - and sought-after sports medicine doctor, Dr. Metzl is also the author of Running Strong, one of the most popular books focused on remaining strong and healthy while training. He’s worked with runners for years and for that reason we simply had to sit down with him to pick his brain about WHY a strong butt = a happy life, what the most common injuries are in runners, and more. Read on to get the latest in sports medicine!
You've been known to say a strong butt = a happy life. Why is it so important to have a strong butt?
I really have 3 roles in my life: a sports doctor who takes diagnoses and treats injuries, an athlete who still loves to compete - this year I’ll do my 34th marathon and 14th Ironman - and a fitness instructor who has developed the Ironstrength workout because I see the results both in my patients and in myself.
The concept here is that the stronger the muscles of the kinetic chain, and particularly the gluteus muscles, the better you’ll run, the less likely you’ll become injured, and the better you’ll look in your jeans! As such, the stronger your butt, the better your life.
As a doctor who works with many runners, what are the most common types of injuries and muscle imbalances that you see in patients? What do they typically result from?
In general, the key is to balance out opposing muscle groups to prevent injury. The main ones are the quad/hamstring and abdominal/low back muscles in terms of balancing.
In terms of injury, I see all kinds of runners in my office - from those just starting out to those who have run many marathons and ultra marathons. I’d say the biggest reasons I see runners for injuries are either that they violate the “rule of too” or they don’t listen to their bodies.
The rule of too’s is quite simple: too much, too fast! It’s when you don’t pay attention to your training plan and simply try to ramp up too quickly. The perfect example is the person who doesn’t run much and then decides to do a marathon for their first race. That’s when we see injuries. The best way to prevent violating the rules of too’s is to pay attention to a good coach or training regimen that can help get you in an appropriate program.
The other problem I often see is people who don’t listen to their body’s cues. They think “I’m just going to push ahead through this pain no matter what” and then a minor injury becomes more serious, like a stress fracture. In my office and in my Running Strong book I try to give people the tips and knowledge to stay on the road.
Can you talk a little bit about the preventative benefits of exercise based on the latest research? What specific breakthroughs have occurred in this area, if any?
The data on the medicine of exercise in terms of disease prevention and even disease treatment is just incredible. When I published the Exercise Cure several years ago the concept of exercise as medicine was almost fringe, and now every week we are seeing studies that show the medical benefits of exercise across the spectrum of human wellness. This spans the entire human body and every body system.
You've worked with some incredibly inspiring disabled athletes. In your opinion, what is it that motivates runners to keep getting out there despite age or other physical challenges?
Everyone has a different reason for being out there running and I try to support them all. That being said, my patients with physical disabilities inspire me most of all. These include blind patients, patients missing limbs, and patients who have suffered head injuries. Not only are these amazing people inspiring, but the community of support that comes with them is just incredible. I’m so honored to be helping these people reach their goals.
Ultra's are growing in popularity. Are they safe? We're curious if you have you ever considered running a 100 mile race?
- Many of my ultra patients find the Ultra distance to be easier on their bodies than a marathon because the pace is so much slower. I think as long as you are careful with your nutrition and you build enough strength before one of these events you should be fine to try one!