Is running bad for my joints and if so how do I fix it?
No doubt running is a great workout but it is also strenuous. It’s is very important to understand the risks associated with running so that you can take preventive measures and continue to lose weight by running and enjoy other benefits of running. I am going to discuss the possible risks related to running and some tips on how to prevent them.
How running affects the joints?
When you run, you put a lot of stress on your joints. With your every stride, the joints are compressed. Due to the wrong form or overuse, the joints can get inflamed and can also lead to long-term disorders.
The injury to the joint can be due to two causes: overuse and traumatic injury. A traumatic injury means injury that happens abruptly whereas overuse injury is caused by overtime tissue damage. It should be noted that most of the people suffer joint injuries due to overuse.
Most runners who are running to lose weight focus on the time of run and miles covered and don’t give too much thought to possible injuries. The repetitive motion of running impacts the joints. Most of the joint injuries are caused by indirect impact rather than direct impact of the runners’ feet with the ground. The indirect impact is caused when the runner stresses to maintain the stability of the joints when the foot hits the ground.
How to prevent the injuries?
If you strive to lose weight by running but are deterred by these facts, don’t be. With some extra care, you can minimize the risks and continue to enjoy your run.
Wear good running shoes
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good running shoes. Don’t just grab any sports shoes that fit. In most good running stores, you can get help with fitting and get the shoes that are the right fit for your feet. Proper running shoes go a long way in minimizing injuries.
Stretching during Warm up and cool down
For every run, it is very important to do stretching during warm up and cool down to prevent injuries. When you stretch during warm up, it increases the blood flow to your muscles. During cool down, stretching help prevent muscle soreness by removing lactic acid from the muscles.
Avoid hard surfaces
Hard surfaces don’t absorb shock and hence they are not easy on the joints. So always try to run on surfaces like grass or gravel and avoid hard concrete routes.
Don’t overdo it
As with everything in life, moderation is the key when it comes to running. Sometimes when we are very focused on running to lose weight, we tend to overdo the running. But it can be counter-productive as it increases the risk of joint injuries and you may have to stop running while you recuperate.
Running has many health benefits and to continue reaping those benefits we need to take care of these factors to minimize the effect on joints.
What do I need to know medically before I start running?
It’s a know fact the running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises to lose weight. Of course there are other workout programs that are as efficient as running but when it comes to versatility, few other workout methods can compare to running. That said, running is not as easy as it seems. If you want to lose weight by running, you need a lot of hard work and discipline and push your body beyond its comfort zone. When you do that, you also put your body at risk if your body is not fit for running.
If you do any physical activity and you are not physically fit, it can lead to a number of medical conditions. Conditions like stroke, heart problems, allergies etc. are common if your body is not fit to do strenuous physical activities. Ironically running is proved to prevent these problems but if you have a pre-existing medical condition, it can get worse on running. So I strongly suggest ruling out any such conditions before you start running to lose weight.
Before you start your running program, no matter how fit you consider yourself to be, it is always a good idea to go to your doctor for a full checkup. It is even more important if any of the following applies to you:
- You have been inactive for a long time
- You are overweight or obese
- You have diabetes
- You have heart condition
- You have high blood pressure
- You have high cholesterol
- You have a family history of heart disease
- You smoke
- You are above 40
It’s not like if you have these issues, running is not for you. On the contrary, after a medical checkup you know what is best for your body so you can ease into a running program accordingly. A medical checkup is a great way to identify potential problems and choose your activity accordingly. And when you start to lose weight by running, a lot of these conditions will go away too!
Apart from a medical check-up, it is also necessary to do a self-health assessment from time to time. Always be aware and use your common sense to identify any potential risks. If you do feel something is not right, consult your doctor.
One other thing to look out for medically before starting running to lose weight is your musculoskeletal condition. Especially for beginners, it is important to watch out for connective tissues and joint injuries as they get more stress than they are used to when you start running. If you have any prior conditions like chronic joint pain or back pain, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any running program.
The benefits of running outnumber the risks associated with it. If you get a prior checkup done and listen to your body while training, you can minimize the risks.