To answer the question, “Does long-distance running injure nerves of the feet and legs?” we invited the 25 members of the Rochester Track Club who had run the greatest number of miles in their lifetime to participate in a study that involved neurologic examination, determination of detection thresholds of touch-pressure, vibratory, and cooling sensations of the foot, and evaluation of nerve conduction. None of the runners had clinical symptoms or signs of peripheral neuropathy. Most of them reported having had toe and foot injuries, sometimes associated with short-lived sensory symptoms. A computer-assisted sensory evaluation of the detection threshold for vibratory sensation of the toe revealed slightly, but significantly, higher values in the runners in comparison with age-and sex-matched control subjects. Similarly, small, but statistically significant, differences were also observed for some attributes of nerve conduction in the leg and foot nerves of the runners. These results suggest that longdistance running causes multiple small injuries to the toes and feet, which lead to measurable differences in the detection threshold for vibratory sensation and in nerve conduction but not to overt neuropathy. The trivial subclinical neuropathic deficits we noted are readily offset by the assumed health and recreational benefits of running.
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