We get asked this a lot. As health professionals and scientists we sat around chatting about this and we couldn't come up with any reasons running is bad for you (excluding serious medical conditions). So let's dispel a few of the myths and give you some tips on how to get started, how to keep going and what to do if you have an injury.
The first thing to explain is that regular exercise is essential for optimal health and well being. Now, it doesn't have to be running. When people at our clinic ask what exercise they should be doing, we turn the question around and ask you , "What do you like doing?" , exercise should be enjoyable. There is no "best" exercise for back pain, flexibility, fitness etc. So although this blog is about running don't feel its what you must do. Now, back to running. Here is your basic checklist.
Why do it? Here is a shortlist of the major benefits (the blog would go on forever if we listed all the positives).
- Improved cardiovascular fitness, a strong and efficient heart and lungs.
- Improved musculo-skeletal fitness. Running improves the strength and health of your joints and cartilage and also the strength and efficiency of your muscles.
- Running can boost your immune system
- Running can reduce symptoms of depression and improve your mood.
- It promotes better sleep
- Helps to keep you at a healthy weight, reduces risks of diabetes and other weight related conditions
- It cheap! No memberships required, just a pair of shoes.
- It's Quick! You don't need to run a lot to get the benefits, just go regularly.
- No special training required, just put one foot in front of the other.
- Isn't running bad for my knees, hips and ankles? No! A running program done sensibly has been found to have a protective effect on your joints, so the exact opposite of what many people think.
- It's too stressful on the body and heart. Again, training sensibly will have a strengthening and protective effect on your organs.
- All that pounding is bad for my back! Untrue. Studies have now shown improved health of the discs in our back in regular runners.
How do I start?
Good question. This will depend on your level of experience, current fitness levels any ongoing medical issues, previous injuries etc. If your not sure make an appointment with us and we can discuss in detail. If you just want to get going there are a lot of apps around. The "Couch to 5k" is a well known one. There are lots of versions of it when you search the app store. Some better maintained than others. We don't recommend one in particular so check reviews. Basically this is a great program that will track you and take through stages to where you can run 5 kilometres. A combination of walking and jogging is a great place to start. You never know where you might end up.
What About Shoes?
There is a lot of information out there and many different types of running shoes. It doesn't have to be that complicated. You hear words like "cushioning","arch support" and "motion control". There is no best brand or running shoe. All the major athletic shoe companies make good shoes. In one of the largest studies done on running shoes and injury prevention the number one factor that prevented injuries was.... Comfort! So keep it simple. If your shoes are old and you want to start running, get some new ones. If you were happy with your previous model then stick with them. If your heavier or a larger build you may need more cushioning. If your starting out a mid range shoe is fine. Once you have narrowed it down to a couple of pairs, put one model on one foot and the other on the other foot. Let the ultimate comfort be for your final decision. And as a final tip don't change your shoe type radically at first, i.e. say going from a heavy supportive shoe to a lightweight minimal/flexible shoe, or vice versa!
Injuries are a part of any fitness regime. Minimising them is the key and applying the appropriate treatment and rehab when they do occur. Most of the time training errors are the cause of running injuries. Or put simply , overload! Too much intensity, volume, or both. So we carefully look at your training load to see if it relates to your injury and whether you have any underlying weaknesses that may have contributed. A rough rule of thumb is not to increase your total volume or intensity by more than 10-15% in a week. If you need help with an acute or ongoing problem and training advice call us on 9855 0606 or book online today.