Knee and ankle issues are among the most common orthopedic injuries for runners. However, this doesn’t mean running is bad for your joints. It’s a common myth that running places too much strain on your joints, when in fact, running can actually benefit your joint health.
How Running Helps Your Joints
When it comes to supporting your joint heath, exercise is one of the best steps you can take. Regular exercise reduces overall stiffness, so runners who hit the road regularly, stretch after their workout, and take rest days can enjoy several joint health benefits. Breaking this down further, your running habit offers the following perks:
- A small study of runners found that thirty minutes of running reduced inflammation in the knee joints. While many factors affect knee health, like genetics and bodyweight, this data suggests that running short distances may actually promote joint health.
- Running is great for overall toning and strengthening. When you run regularly, your ligaments and muscles gain strength over time. This makes them more capable of supporting the joint and preventing common sports injuries.
Lubricates the Joints:
- Exercise triggers the release of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. This lubrication prevents stiffness and discomfort both on and off the trail
Maintains Body Weight:
- Excess body weight puts pressure on the joints, which can lead to joint conditions like arthritis. Running can help you maintain your body weight and support your joint health later in life.
While running and other types of exercise play a role in joint health and sports injury prevention, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors. They will ensure that you’re taking all the necessary steps to keep your joints moving.
Learning to Run Safely
While running can promote joint health, this is only true if you run safely. Improper form, hard surfaces, and old shoes can put extra pressure on your joints, causing issues down the line. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your run:
- Wear The Right Shoes: Supportive shoes cushion the joints with every stride, so be sure to toss out those worn out running shoes before they cause problems.
- Watch Your Form: Every runner has their own ideal form. But as a general rule, try to keep your knee lined up with the middle of your foot and your foot perpendicular to your shin. Hold your upper body upright with your torso slightly forward, tighten your core, and relax your shoulders. Proper form can be tricky to master, but a personal trainer can help.
- Run on a Softer Surface: Pavement can be tough on your knee joints, especially if you’re prone to knee sports injuries. Switching to a trail or track will be easier on the joints.
- Take Rest Days: No matter your training goals, your body needs recovery days. Taking a rest day will give your muscles time to heal, so you can avoid overexerting and injuring yourself. Stretching after runs and on your days off can also help.
- Address Your Injuries: Running on a potential joint injury can cause further damage. If you’re experiencing pain, swelling, or stiffness, visit a sports injury clinic to get your symptoms checked out.
Whether you’re jogging around the block or training for a marathon, joint health is key to your performance. However, even with the best sports injury prevention measures, incidents still happen. Sport Ortho Urgent Care is proud to offer a full selection of sports injury diagnostics, as well as treatment like casting and splinting. Our sports orthopedic urgent care clinics are located in Hendersonville, Murfreesboro, and Mt. Juliet, TN. While we welcome walk-ins, you’re welcome to call us for an appointment or use our online booking tool.