Can Improper Running Harm Your Joints?

Dr Handicap - woman running

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise for many reasons. It’s free, it’s fun, and it comes with an amazing sense of achievement if you decide to enter races and get medals. If you’re a novice, it can be easy to think that running is a danger-free sport – but the truth is that improper running techniques can leave you with lasting joint damage. This can seriously harm your mobility and leave you in need of accommodations to your life, such as a disabled parking permit.

The joints most likely to be affected by running are the ones in your hips, legs, and feet, which are obviously doing most of the work. A joint is the place where two bones meet, and they work hard to keep your body mobile and have certain protections in place to ensure that they can do this job. Synovial fluid and cartilage exist to protect your joints and bones and if either of these things are compromised, you can experience pain or mobility issues.

Knees are one of the most common joints that runners experience problems with. Many runners report experiencing pain in their knees when running and this can be down to a number of factors. Certain surfaces such as concrete or tarmac are quite hard on your knees, which essentially act as shock absorbers when you’re pounding the pavement on your run. Your knees are cushioned by the protection of any joint, but they can only take so much impact.

These facts shouldn’t frighten you; running doesn’t hurt you, but improper running does. It may not seem instinctive to think that there’s a proper and an improper way to run, but technique is very important in running, just like in any sport. There are certain things you can do to protect your joints and ensure that your run stays as fun and pain-free as possible. By taking certain precautions, you’ll ensure that you’re able to run for years to come.

The first factor in protecting your joints is to ensure you are wearing the proper footwear. While certain leisure shoes look super cool, you will need to invest in specific running shoes to make sure your joints and the rest of your body are properly supported while you’re out running. Instead of going to an everyday sports store, you’re better off going to a store that specializes in equipment for runners. These places are usually home to an ergonomic machine that you can run on in order to determine what kind of shoes you need. The machine will measure how your feet fall and how you distribute weight while running. These stores are often staffed by people who are passionate about running and who will be able to give you vital advice on the best shoes for you.

Dr Handicap - running technique

Another essential for healthy running is stretching. Think about it: you usually don’t jump straight out of bed in the morning, so you can’t expect your body to be able to do a run without a little warmup. There are lots of stretching routines available online, but it’s best to pick one that is targeted at runners. It will emphasize stretching your legs, feet, and hips to ensure that your body is primed and ready to run. Then, when you do start running, your body will be warm and flexible and thus able to deal with regular exercise. Forgetting to stretch can lead to injuries such as muscle tears or tendon and ligament damage.

Form and posture are also very important when you’re running. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you just need to get out and move. Keep your back straight and your arms bent at your sides, moving in partnership with the rest of your body. Make sure your movements are strong and confident and that your running rhythm is even. Strong and confident movement means that you’re planting yourself firmly to the ground and making sure that your body has a steady base to cling to while it exercises.

Running is one of the best exercises that you can do and running safely is so easily done. If you’re in any way unsure, you can join a local running group or hire a coach to show you exactly how things are done. Your body won’t love if it gets injured, but it’ll love the improved fitness and mobility that comes with an exercise regime like running. You’ll also be happy to avoid having to apply for a handicap parking permit or other accommodation, safe in the knowledge that you’re running in the best way to protect your precious joints.