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Running; myths, benefits and chocolate bones

Running is thought to cause you knee problems, there are of course injuries associated with runners but they are not guaranteed to affect you. Every sport has common injuries associated with them and the majority of injuries that are classed as a non-contact injury can be prevented. These include osteoarthritis, chondromalacia patella and iliotibial band friction syndrome. Now these may sound like serious injuries but they are all insidious in nature. Meaning they are known as chronic injuries, they occur over a prolonged period of time, from weeks to months to years. The body is very resilient to wear, running once a week will do very little damage. In fact, the bit of damage it does do to your muscles, bones and tendons is good for you and will cause them to get stronger.

Chronic injuries are often viewed by people in my profession as overuse injuries. This word overuses would suggest that you are doing too much of one type of exercise. This is common among people who are just getting into running. They will look at what experienced runners are doing and try to copy it. But like every training programme we must increase the millage slowly over a number of weeks and months. You will naturally want to run better, run faster, and do so as soon as possible. However, it is this eagerness that often leads to overuse injuries. A sedentary person who picks up running may want to run 10 miles as their arbitrary goal. If they increase the distance they run by a mile a time and they run 3 times a week, soon enough their muscles will feel very stiff and weak. This is your body telling you to take a break.

The benefits of running!

The impact from running is excellent for your bone health. That repeated impact sends force through your legs, hips and into your spine. This is exactly what your bones need to stay strong. This force makes your bones denser. This increased density protects against osteoporosis. If you imagine your bones like an Aero chocolate bar, lots of air bubbles in the chocolate. Your bones are made in a similar way, a matrix of bone with little pockets of space. The less space we have the more dense the bones, the more force they can withstand (you can run faster for longer and fall over with less chance of being injured). Osteoporosis is a condition in which there is an excessive porous or Aero change of your bones. By hitting your foot against the floor (running), you tell your bones they are going to experience force, they adapt by becoming denser in the young population, and this mitigates the effect of osteoporosis in those older generations.

Running also helps the cartilage in your knee…. Yeah let that sink in, it doesn’t damage the cartilage, it makes it healthier, more prepared to absorb force and heal should it get damaged. PROVIDED that you allow sufficient time for your body to rest, heal and adapt between session and your sessions are progressed in a slow manner. So not running a marathon in your first month, maybe push a 5km run. Start small, increase mileage gradually and rest as well as you can between sessions having at least a day’s rest between runs (especially if you are new to running).

Take away points:

  1. Rest between session

  2. Maximise the rest between sessions

  3. Running is good for your joints

  4. Running is good for you bones

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