*This is a collaborative guest post
How Joggers Can Avoid Joint Pain
There is no denying the potential health benefits of running; from proven improvements in cardiovascular health to effective weight management. Running is not, however, free from risks. Repeatedly putting your joints under stress over an extended period of time has the potential to cause joint pain.
But what can you do to reduce the risks of joint discomfort without giving up on running?
Ease in Gently
Jogging may seem like a pretty innocuous form of exercise, but in surveys roughly a third of runners report some kind of muscle or joint injury over the preceding twelve months. What is more, 40% of runners in one study reported knee injuries, meaning that knee pain is the most likely running-related injury to be experienced.
Interestingly, running-related injuries were found not to be related to speed, age, gender or even how much stretching each runner did. Indeed, the most obvious impacts on injury rates were body weight and how far participants actually run. In short, the more you run, the greater your odds of injury become.
It seems therefore that easing into your new exercise regime is a wise move, thus allowing your body time to become accustomed to your new exercise regime, while providing suitable recovery time. As your strength and general health builds, so you can gently begin to increase the distance or frequency of your runs, confident that your body is becoming attuned to your new lifestyle.
Avoid Hard Surfaces
If knee injuries are the most common joint complaints among runners, the obvious question is what impacts the odds of suffering from such a condition. Unsurprisingly, experts have found that running on softer surfaces such as sand or forest paths lead to statistically less injury than exercising on asphalt.
If you want to avoid joint pain from running, therefore, a great solution is running through the countryside rather than along the road. While this might be slightly less practical for some runners, the evidence suggests it is considerably kinder on your knees.
Buy Proper Running Shoes
You might be surprised to hear that the shape of your feet can have a significant impact on your running style, and the potential injuries you may experience. It has been shown that runners with particularly high arches are most prone to ankle injuries, whilst those of us with flatter feet are more likely to suffer from knee injuries.
As a result, don’t just select your running shoes based on price or appearance, but instead consider the amount of support they offer you. Sometimes, visiting a professional and purchasing premium running shoes is an investment worth making, helping you to enjoy your exercise with fewer incidences of pain.
Learn Proper Function
It is all too easy to think of running as something that anyone can do without equipment or training. The evidence, however, paints a rather different picture. According to sports science experts tracking the causes of injury in runners, 60% of their health problems can be attributed to wrong form.
For this reason, it is wise to spend some time with a personal trainer or joining a running group so that you can seek to perfect your form. Proper running form doesn’t just have the potential to limit injury but can make your running easier and more efficient, leading to a much more enjoyable experience as a whole.
Stick to a Routine
Studies have shown that even just an hour of running each week can have a statistically significant impact on overall and future health. All the same, the biggest gains of all seem to stem from repeated, long-term exercise over an extended period of time. Indeed, one scientific study was so confident as to summarize that your skeleton “thrives on stress and movement and reacts adversely to prolonged rest and immobilization”.
Once you’ve got into the habit of running, therefore, it can be a good idea to create a schedule you’re happy with. This regular, consistent exercise stands the very best chance of providing you with maximum health benefits while minimizing injury.
Consider Resistance Training
Repeated analyses of running-related injuries have shown that joint injuries are far more common where existing muscle weaknesses exist. For example, in one study scientists put runners through a barrage of tests to ascertain which leg was strongest, then tracked injuries in these runners. They found overwhelming evidence that injuries are far more likely in the weaker leg, and even in areas where musculature is weakest.
Stronger leg muscles have also been found to reduce knee pain as the muscles take pressure off the knee joint. It seems likely that resistance training, with a particular emphasis on the legs, therefore has the potential for greater support when running and consequently a reduced risk of injury.
Listen To Your Body
As any athlete knows, your body needs time to recover fully after strenuous exercise. Rest and sleep should therefore be considered an integral part of a regular running routine. What is more, take the time to listen to your body in order to discern how it is responding to recent exercise.
While there is some evidence to suggest that jogging on sore muscles or joints may cause temporary pain relief, you may actually end up doing more harm than good. After all, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
If you’re keen to get some exercise, but your body is complaining after your latest run, then you’re far better to take things a little easier; either take a day off or instead swap your run for a more relaxing and lower impact form of exercise such as walking. In this way, your body can recover fully, in readiness for your next run.
There is evidence that a number of sports supplements have the potential to limit joint pain, and some may even be as effective as painkillers such as ibuprofen for reducing joint-related pain. One of the most popular is omega 3 cod liver oil which is believed to help reduce joint inflammation and to fight pain, whilst glucosamine has long been a popular supplement for those with joint discomfort.
Running has been shown time and again to have numerous health benefits, and in most cases, these far outweigh the risks. That said, it makes sense to limit your risk as much as possible, so you can continue to enjoy running for the foreseeable future. As we have seen, protecting yourself from joint-related pain and injury doesn’t need to be too complex. Listening to your body, introducing exercise slowly and doing what you can to avoid pressure on your knee joints are all likely to be beneficial.
This article was provided by the supplement experts at Simply Supplements.