I love running, not only do I personally find it the easiest way of staying fit, but also an incredibly effective form of stress relief, coining the term ‘fury runs’, essentially taking out all the days frustration on the streets of Singapore to an offensively loud basey soundtrack.
Despite the alleged health benefits of cardiovascular exercise, many of us have concerns about high impact activities, such as running, and the potential risk of cartilage damage and joint degeneration, which can lead to conditions such as arthritis in later life.
To help you make a fully informed choice, I have decided to turn to current scientific research to look at the long-term effects of recreational running.
While there are a ton of conflicting opinions out there, overall, when comparing short to medium distance runners to age matched controls, studies found that recreational running:
- Does not contribute to the degenerative joint diseases like arthritis (3)
- Results in better bone density in old age (1)
- Can increase life span – one ongoing study found that individuals who ran 1 – 2.5 hours per week had an increased life expectancy of 6.2 years for men and 5.6 years for women when compared to their sedentary peers (2)
However, on the flip side, its important to bear in mind that injuries in runners are absolutely rife, so why is this?
Repetitive movements in one direction, coupled with poor biomechanics are a recipe for musculoskeletal disaster in any regular activity, especially when then combined with high levels of impact force in something like running.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from injury without giving up our beloved running?
STRETCH - Warm up with dynamic movements before setting out and cool down with static stretches.
ROLL - Regular foam rolling can help reduce tension and maintain/increase muscular health
PLAN - Gradually increase the intensity and mileage of your runs, especially if just starting out or training for a specific event.
SPORTS MASSAGE - Regular soft tissue work in line with your training can prevent pain and injury especially if you frequently cover long distances (over 5-7km) or when increasing your training intensity.
ANALYSE - Get your running gait assessed by a qualified podiatrist, physio or sports therapist to help pick up and address any potentially harmful movement patterns before they become an issue. This can also help you pick your best running shoe from the plethora availble.
DON’T PUSH THROUGH PAIN - If you experience discomfort stop and get it checked out and treated by a qualified physio or sports therapist to prevent small, easily treated irritations becoming chronic.
EAT - A properly thought out nutrition plan can help optimise not only your energy but also your muscle and joint health.
For further information on this, or any injury or health related topics, why not pop into the clinic for a cupper and chat. Alternatively feel free to give me a buzz on +65 9821 1222 or drop an email to Annie@ifcpt.com.
Annie trained in the UK and has worked in both London and Singapore. She is a rugby enthusiast, head physio for the Bedok Kings RFC and works closely with the Singapore Rugby Union at international events and with the men’s and women’s national teams. She, and the therapy team are also affiliated with the British Dragon Boat Team and the crew from Juggernaut Fight Club. In her spare time she loves running, paddle boarding, boxing as well as weight training and HIIT sessions with the boys in the IFC gym.
1. Rector RS1, Rogers R, Ruebel M, Widzer MO, Hinton PS. Lean body mass and weight-bearing activity in the prediction of bone mineral density in physically active men. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):427-35
2. Schnohr P1, Lange P, Scharling H, Jensen JS. Long-term physical activity in leisure time and mortality from coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, and cancer. The Copenhagen City Heart Study. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2006 Apr;13(2):173-9.
3. Willick SE, Hansen PA. Running and osteoarthritis. Clin Sports Med. Jul 2010;29(3):417-428