Archive for July 13th, 2010

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Knee Joint Xray. Image from rbatina's photostream on Flickr

Summer is here and many of my clients are preparing for the Half Marathon September 12, 2010 and the Chicago Marathon, October 10, 2010. Training is a good time to think about proper joint care. Recent research indicates that running can help maintain the health of your joints by providing your body with proper blood flow, oxygen and stimulation of healthy bone and connective tissue. However, over the years, many runners sustain injuries that can lead to arthritis. And if a runner has poor form or a gait imbalance (runs on a pronated foot, for example) this can also lead to uneven wear and tear on joints.

Tips for Runners to Help Avoid Excessive Joint Wear

Limit your running to soft surfaces like grass, cinder and sand. Running on concrete and asphalt is a great way to wear down your joints. The pounding can help accelerate the degenerative process. It always amazes me that Marathons are run on concrete and asphalt.  Sure running is great cardiovascular workout and many people love to run. But running pounds your joints much like the ocean wears away rock by pounding over and over as waves hit the shoreline.

Cross train. Fitness experts don’t tell you to cross train simply to sell new Balance Cross Trainers. Cross training gives your body the chance to work muscles differently and wear your body in different areas. For example, if you run and swim, running pounds on your hip, ankle and knee joints (and yes it can also tighten your low back). But running does little for your upper body. Swimming, on the other hand, allows you to get great cardio, work your upper body and core muscles differently and take some of the strain off your joints. BY alternating between the two, you get better recovery from one exercise and less wear on your joints A the same time, if you swim all the time, you may be more prone to rotator cuff and shoulder injuries. So alternating between the two (and throwing in some bicycling) can help extend the life of your joints.

* Wear proper footwear! Wear Proper Footwear! I am going to say it one more time: Wear Proper footwear. If your shoes are old or they give you blisters or your knees hurt after you run in a new pair of shoes, go get fitted for a better pair of new shoes. You should not have to “break in” a pair of shoes. They should fit properly and be comfortable from day 1.

• Do NOT run when you are injured. If you feel a sharp pain in your knee, ankle, hip or muscle when you run, stop and rest.  And get it checked out by your doctor to avoid further injury or complications.

See Running Times Magazine for joint care tips for runners here.

Check out the book “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook”, here for tips on self-treatment of trigger points that cause pain in joints.

MSN has a great article here on running and your joints.

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