Can Obsessive Passion Lead To Injuries?

Male runner jogging along a path

How obsessed are you with running?

Running is a pretty f**king good sport. Let's be real. You keep fit, you keep social and feel accomplished. Like many of you, I run to stay on top of my mental health. By no means am I as good a runner as I was a swimmer, but I have found an awesome outlet that truly helps. 

But, at what point is yours or my obsessive passion for running too much? Is there any evidence that being too passionate is linked to injury? It turns out there is.

Obsessive Passion

We've all felt passionate about something (I hope). We have all had that sense of strong motivation towards something; however, have you ever had obsessive passion? This is when internal pressure takes over. You feel compelled to engage in the activity regardless of your ability, loading capacity and recovery. In running, this can lead to certain individuals neglecting little pains and minor injuries, leading to more severe and difficult-to-treat gradual-onset overuse injuries (Vallerand et al., 2003).

Can You Measure "Obsessive Passion"?

Turns out you can! Obsessive passion in runners can be measured using the passion scale developed by Vallerand et al. (2003). This is a valid and reliable questionnaire consisting of six items with a final scale out of 7-points. Achieve a score of 1 mans you don't really care for it (low obsessive passion) with 7 being the person who is completely obsessed. 

The Evidence

Mousavi et al. (2021) have recently demonstrated that obsessive passion for running is associated with higher odds of running-related injuries! In other words, your obsessive nature might be pushing you a little too far. In fact, obsessive passion keeps runners running, even when injured. Because of the obsession, runners failed to weigh the situation and circumstances leading to running excesses, thereby increasing their risk of injury. 

So, What Can You Do?

Next time you feel that onset of a niggle, be mindful. Injuries like medial tibial stress syndrome (aka "shin splints") can lead to stress fractures if ignored. You are at risk of having more time out than if you just take a step back, go confirm your diagnosis with a healthcare professional, and implement any necessary rehabilitation programs. 

Wishing you well!

- Ben

About the author:

Ben Lindsay is the Managing Director and engineer behind the Solushin medical device. A former national medalist swimmer, Ben aspires to learn from physicians, physiotherapists and podiatrists so he can develop tools to improve the quality of care for their patients.

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