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The Physiology and Biomechanics of the Master Runner

Willy, Richard W., PT, PhD*; Paquette, Max R., PhD

Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review: March 2019 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 15–21
doi: 10.1097/JSA.0000000000000212
Review Articles

The Master runner (age 35 y and above) represents a unique athletic patient. Lifelong participation in endurance running slows the inevitable age-related decline in aerobic function and muscular strength. Still, the Master runner does not escape the inevitable effects of aging. Master runners experience a steady decline in running performance, that is, typical and maximal running speeds, after the age of 50 years of age. Age-related declines in running performance are driven by a host of factors, including declining cardiovascular function, reduced muscular capacity, altered biomechanics, and greater susceptibility to running-related injury. This review discusses age-related changes in physiology, biomechanics, and running injury susceptibility and practical strategies to maximize running participation in the Master runner.

*School of Physical Therapy and Movement Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Exercise, Sports and Movement Sciences, School of Health Studies, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Richard W. Willy, PT, PhD, School of Physical Therapy and Movement Sciences, College of Allied Health Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812 (e-mail:

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