More and more people are taking up running. It’s great for your cardiovascular and mental health, it lowers your risk of diabetes and obesity and keeps you alert and fit.
It’s logical to think that pounding your joints causes them to wear but actually the scientific evidence suggests this is not the case.
There are plenty of long-term studies of runners to show that, as long as your joints are healthy to start with, running does not substantially increase the risk of developing arthritis, even if someone jogs into middle age and beyond.
So if exercise is good for you, then why do the press knock it? Well lets be absolutely clear, it’s not exercise that is bad for you, it is INJURY that is bad for you and sadly as you age you are at increased risk of injury.
Why are you at increased risk of injury as you age?
Well, as you age your ligaments become less elastic or less stretchy. This means that they are less adaptable to changes in foot position and so ligament injury is common. In fact a million people a year attend A&E with an ankle sprain so its one of the commonest injuries people suffer.
What is an overuse injury?
An overuse injury occurs where the forces put on the body exceed the ability of the body to handle them and soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments or bones can fail. This presents with conditions such as tendon problems (tendinopathy or tendon tears), ligament sprains, and even stress fractures.
What tips can you give to someone looking to take up jogging?
- Make sure you have a Good Pair of trainers that must be well fitting and comfortable
- Build up gradually and slowly. DON’T overdo it or you will get an overuse injury
- If you are not used to running and are starting afresh, get a personal trainer or physiotherapist to assess your running style and give you advice on injury avoidance.
And if you are very overweight or have pre-existing arthritis you may wish to consider different or modified activities such as walking in water, cycling or cross training which put much less strain across your joints but can give you an equally good cardiovascular work out.
This article relates to a feature on the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Breakfast Today programme hosted by Steve Kitchen, standing in for Mark Cummings on the 16th April 2014. You can listen here.