Tips for Running with Arthritis

You love to run, but your body doesn’t agree.  In fact, all those years running marathons or running on the weekends has put its toll on your joints.  If you are like me, you reminisce about the time when you did not have pain after ONE mile into the run.  You wish you could finish that run without relying on painkillers.  This post outlines some tips to he
lp you get back that great runner’s high without the joint pain associated.  The question arises, is it possible to go running with arthritis? At Aligned Medical, we have collected those crucial tips to help alleviate arthritic pain in your joints when running. 

  1. Eat low inflammatory foods and get enough sleep. – Dietary adjustments provide the healthiest alternative to anti-inflammatory medications. Consider eating whole grains, oats, beans and sweet potatoes and other foods with a lower glycemic index to supply your body with the carbohydrates it needs to support your training. Another anti-inflammatory tactic is to get enough sleep.   Studies have shown people who get the suggested amount of sleep for their age and activity have 2 times less inflammation.
  2. Be a Little Different and Run Off-Course. – Why avoid the pavement? Because it’s hard. And worse, it is hard on your body. By covering as many of your miles on slightly softer surfaces such as dirt, wood chips and grass, you can absorb that pounding with a little less wear and tear on the muscles, bones and most importantly the joints.
  3. Are you warmed up? Regardless of whether you have joint pain or not, warming up is key to success. Running and working out on cold muscles can exacerbate arthritis. Invest in a prolonged walking warm-up to increase the muscle temperature and the blood flow to the working muscles. Another option for a pre-warm up is to take a hot shower or tub, which can also help effectively ease your body into the activity
  4. Exercise consistently.  Regular activity, in this case running, can help protect you from more severe problems later in life. The key is to move consistently and avoid big jumps in mileage, prolonged layoffs, and sporadic workouts. The more consistent the activity, the better it is for your joint health.  Think about how much you enjoy hot showers on cold, damp days.
  5. Be willing to make a few changes. Most running fanatics do not want to hear that they may need to cut back a little.  However the stress on joints from long runs should always be considered so that you can continue running as you age.  Limit the number of longer races per year and focus on quality preparation with a longer recovery. By extending the recovery time between interval training and long runs, your body will have more time to heal and recover before the next run, decreasing the cumulative stress to your joints.
  6. Improve your strides.- making improvements in your running form can decrease the impact on your joints. Some form tips include focusing on maintaining a short, quick stride rate, landing lightly on the middle of your foot, and keeping your body head to toe in alignment (shoulders relaxed and over the hips, feet under the hips and a slight lean from the ankles). – sometimes this is the biggest a
    nd best change you can make to your running.   

As always, listen to what your body needs, especially if you are running with arthritis.  If you feel you are still pushing it too much you may need to visit a knee specialist or arthritis specialist to help alleviate some of your discomfort. Make an appointment at our Paoli, Pa., office by calling (610) 644-3166 and speak with one of our specialists.

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