Is Running a Good Exercise for You?
Cynthia Luo, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist
In Canada, running is a very common and popular exercise during all seasons.
We All Run for Different Reasons:
To name a few, people run for the fresh air and to be close to nature, to keep active and fit, and even to clear their mind and reduce stress. Other benefits may include keeping/increasing bone density to strengthen bones, reducing cholesterol levels, better heart function, balancing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, increasing blood circulation and detoxing.
What You Should Avoid When Running:
1. Hard, Uneven Surfaces
We all know that running long distance frequently on hard surfaces puts extra pressure on joints which can easily cause pain or injury. Uneven surfaces also cause imbalances, leaving joints and muscles to potentially not function mechanically well.
2. The Wrong Shoes
While running, your feet constantly receive extra downward pressure. Especially those who have flat feet, a pair of proper comfortable running shoes are necessary for exercise. Good shoes can support the arches as well as reduce potential injury to the joints, muscles and other soft tissue.
Drinking proper amounts of water before, during and after running is important. The body is made up of 70% water so without enough of it, some of the body’s functions cannot work properly. For example, a common cause of headaches is dehydration. Drink more water on running days and hot days because we lose extra water from the body during extra exhalation and sweat.
4. Not Warming Up/Cooling Down Properly
In general, running is a hard exercise so it is better to do some light exercise first. Some stretching, especially on the legs, gets the body ready and flexible for the run. Start with low speed running which can help avoid possible injuries. For the same reason, it is not good to stop running all of a sudden. Slow down your speed, possibly followed by fast walking and then slower walking. Then when you are finished the exercise, end by stretching again.
Who Should Consider Avoiding Running:
1. Heart Disease
For studies that review heart attack/sudden death related to marathon runners, most of the cases relate to coronary artery disease. For the runners who have a family history of heart disease or other coronary heart conditions, they should be cautious of running. It is recommended you speak to your medical doctor before consider running.
2. High Blood Pressure
Running may help reduce blood pressure as exercising can temporally increase the systolic pressure in general. However, intense exercise, such as marathon running, may increase blood pressure, so it is important to speak to your medical doctor before taking that route.
3. Bad Joint Ergonomics
Not everyone is born with proper joint structure. For those who have “O” shaped legs (Bowlegs or Genu Varum), “X” shaped legs (Knock Knees or Genu Valgum) or over extended knees, during normal movements the joints do not function as they should. Running in these instances could easily harm the joints or cause pain. Other options to consider for exercise might include walking or swimming. Speak to your medical doctor or chiropractor to decide what would be the best option for you.
Keep in mind that everyone is different and running may or may not be ideal for you. If you are unsure, speak to your medical doctor or consult one of the therapists at our clinic. We are happy to help you find the best exercise routine to suit your individual needs. Remember to be good to your body by keeping in mind the items mentioned above to avoid. Also consider massage as part of your fitness regimen. Massage therapy supports the relaxation and recovery process, helps prevent injury and reduces swelling, muscle stiffness and fatigue.