Could running too much be bad for your health?
Following a series of guidelines is essential to avoid the most frequent injuries among runners.
Running is fashionable. It is increasingly common for several years to see fans running through the streets of our cities and towns. Running does not stop gaining followers, and more and more people dare to practice this sport. It is a very healthy habit that, however, is not immune to some risks that we must take into account to avoid injuries.
One of the most ingrained popular beliefs is that running is bad for our joints. This statement is only partially true. And the fact is that although many believe that this sports practice causes osteoarthritis and arthritis, the truth is that it does not have to be this way if we train with our head and adapt our way of running to our characteristics and physical abilities.
Why we should run correctly?
If we run correctly, our joints do not have to suffer more than necessary. Recent studies have shown that the impact of our strides is useful for regenerating tissues and bones. The problem appears when we exceed our capacities and subject our body to efforts for which it is not prepared. That is when the tissues suffer, and we overload them. As we train, our body is increasingly prepared to run without affecting the joints, although logically, this does not mean that we do not have to set limits, especially as we get older.
Risks appear when we run without taking into account a series of basic guidelines. Traumatology doctors have made it clear: “Running is a cyclical impact sport that can be the cause of injury, especially when we do not take into account risk factors such as excess weight, errors in training, some external factors such as the hardness and stability of the terrain or the type of shoe.” In their opinion, weight is a determining factor to take into account for ‘runners,’ since “the greater the weight, the greater the impact and, precisely, this impact against the ground that affects the whole body is what causes the injuries.”.
Most frequent problems
Most frequent problems Many of the most frequent issues a ‘runner’ when doing an incorrect sports practice affect the joints. These are the most frequent injuries among ‘runners’ when physical exercise is not performed correctly:
1. Patellar tendinopathy. It is an inflammation and degeneration of the knee’s anterior tendon that connects the kneecap to the leg. It manifests with pain below the patella, mainly when flexing the knee.
The knees are the most punished part of the body, by running.
2. Achilles tendonitis. It occurs when the back muscles of the leg (calves and soleus) have little elasticity or when running regularly on hard surfaces, causing pain in the lower end of the calf, above the heel.
3. Chondromalacia patella. It occurs due to the softening of the cartilage that lines the kneecap. It generally occurs due to instability or malposition of the patella in its joint with the femur.
4. Fibrillar tear in the hamstrings. Strain or violent jerks on the hamstrings, located on the back of the thigh, can tear your muscle fibers.
5. Tibial periostitis. It is the inflammation of the tibia’s periosteum, which is a very resistant and thick membrane that surrounds it. This injury causes pain on the inside of the leg and may appear when switching to a more intense workout.
6. Runner’s knee or iliotibial band syndrome. It is one of the most frequent injuries in the runner. The inflammation of this tendon structure that connects the hip with the knee causes discomfort in the latter’s external part.
7. Plantar fasciitis. This injury usually causes discomfort around the heel and occurs, above all, in overweight people, who work standing up, or who use inappropriate footwear when going for a run.
8. Metatarsal stress fracture. It is a question of the fracture of one or more metatarsals, generally the central ones, due to the running’s continued impact. It causes severe pain in the forefoot that forces you to stop walking.
Guidelines to avoid these injuries
To avoid these and other injuries and not to punish our joints, there are a series of guidelines that it is convenient to follow, although fundamentally, they could be summarized in applying common sense and taking into account our physical capacities:
1. Consult with specialists. Although few do, before starting running, it would be convenient to undergo a medical check-up and even carry out a stress test to find out what our physical condition is and adapt the training to our abilities.
2. Heat up. Before running, it is essential to perform warm-up exercises that include joint mobility training, stretching, or light jogging.
3.Stretch. Stretching to improve and maintain flexibility. It is essential to maintain the flexibility that will help prevent ligament and tendon injuries and enhance athletic performance. Stretching takes time and should include all joints and limbs. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds.
4. Evaluate our capabilities. We must adapt our way of running to our level and physical abilities. Thus, if we are not used to practicing sports, we should not push our effort to the limit since our tissues are not adapted to stress and become overloaded, with the consequent risk of injury. The level of training has to progress little by little.
5. Study where we run. Avoid running excessively on challenging terrain such as asphalt. Soft ground such as dirt or grass cushion and protect the joints.
6. Healthy eating. It is also convenient not to neglect the nutritional aspect and to carry out a correct diet.
7. Correct footwear. Many of the injuries that a runner can sustain and damage to their joints could easily be avoided with a simple change of shoes. In this sense, we must choose the right type of footwear that adapts to our feet’ characteristics and the kind of training we do.
8. Vary your training. Combine cardiovascular activities with running to avoid continued impact and injury.
9. Hydrate yourself. We must drink enough water: before, during, and after exercising.