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ASK DR. ARTHRITIS: CAN YOU STILL CONTINUE RUNNING WHEN YOU HAVE ARTHRITIS?
Running is the most common form of exercise and one that everyone takes for granted. Things are slightly different when an individual has arthritis in their knee joints, which also happens to be one of the most areas affected by osteoarthritis. Given this, it’s not uncommon for arthritic patient to ask if they should stop running as they try to manage their condition. This post hopes to give you a better idea on how you can approach exercising, specifically if you’re a regular runner whose regimen has been derailed by your diagnosis
1. Running routine
It is important for you to analyze your running routine since frequent and consistent stress on your joints could make your arthritis worse. If you are a keen runner but have arthritis in your knees/hips, avoid putting undue stress on your affected joints 5 times a week. Space your running sessions out instead and try scheduling 2-3 runs a week to give your joints time to rest and recover.
Try combining your running with different, lighter weight loading intensity workouts such as the elliptical, cycling, or even swimming to reduce the impact on your joints.
2. Running surfaces
With arthritis in your knees, we would recommend that you stick to running on surfaces that are softer to decrease the impact and strain on your joints. Avoid running on hard roads and concrete. Instead change your running routes to include different trails and routes such as parks or better yet, running trails.
3. Stretching and warm-up
It is paramount that you do sufficient stretching and a long warm up before running intensely. Stiff and cold muscles around you joint will exacerbate the arthritis
4. Pain free running
Vary the intensity of your running routine. If you are running at a high intensity pace that puts a heavy load on your joints causing pain, slow down! Start slow and build up to a comfortable moderate speed and try and maintain this for longer rather than increasing your speed. This will ensure less damage to your joints and also a quicker recovery time between runs
5. Stride length
There has been sufficient research in the field showing that a shorter, faster stride length helps to decrease the wear and tear associated with arthritis in your knee and hip joints compared to a longer one. This allows you to be lighter on your feet, with a lighter load on landing and a less opposite force travelling towards your knee
It is very important that you stick to a routine and exercise consistently. Avoid long lay offs and intense runs especially directly after a lay off to avoid injury and worsening your arthritis
Believe it or not, your food intake plays a big part on the pain you experience when you are running with arthritis. Watch what you eat and try to keep a logbook if possible. Avoid processed food and stick to a ‘’low inflammatory diet’’ if at all possible
8. External aids
The use of external aids such as compression sleeves and braces can make a big difference in the stability of your joints when exercising, especially the knee joint. They provide the support that you need when a joint is weak, helps to decrease inflammation and also decreases load bearing on the weak joint, dissipating it across a large surface area. The Dr. Arthritis Knee Sleeve provides great support!
We hope the above tips are useful to you, especially if you are a runner with arthritis and experience pain when exercising. Remember to put them into practice and notice a difference with your running.