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Running (cont.)

Risks of Running

Patient Comments

The risk of running is primarily to the joints because you hit the ground with two to three times your body weight. You should be cautious if:

  1. You have joint pain, arthritis (particularly in the knees), or other conditions that might be worsened by pounding (disc problems in the lower back, sciatica). Speak with your doctor before you start running if you have any of these conditions.
  2. You are overweight. There is no guideline for when to start running if you are overweight, and so you should use common sense and listen to your body. If running feels hard on your joints, particularly on your knees, then you should consider losing some weight before you start.

For men and women considering more ambitious training, research suggests that running more than 40 miles per week is a risk factor for injury in both genders, particularly in the knee. The risk seems to be higher for men, perhaps because men are heavier.

To reduce ground-impact forces, avoid concrete and run instead on soft, flat ground like a cinder track, boardwalk, grass (watch for holes), or a dirt path. Treadmills are softer than the road, and so if you have an opportunity to use one, you might want to take advantage of that.

No one has a crystal ball when it comes to predicting who will or will not develop knee problems, so again, practice common sense and listen to your body. Don't do it if it hurts, never run through pain, and see your doctor when you do have pain that lasts for more than a few days.

Proper Running Form

We all have our own style of running (not even the best runners in the world have "perfect" form), and so I generally suggest just getting out there and run in whatever way feels natural, and if any of the suggestions below for proper running form help you run smoother, then that's a bonus. Here are some suggestions for proper form:

  • Relax your upper body and allow your arms to swing naturally.
  • Keep your torso and shoulders relaxed.
  • Keep you torso upright and hips slightly forward.
  • Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  • Keep your hands relaxed; they should almost flop at the wrist. The tension in your hands should be light, like you are holding a small bird.
  • Keep your jaw and face relaxed.
  • Breathe naturally in and out through your nose and mouth (ignore advice that says to breathe only though your nose). If you are a shallow breather (you take rapid, short breaths) and find you get out of breath quickly no matter what your speed, try exhaling fully; that will cause you to slow down your breathing and inhale more deeply.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/22/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Running:

Running - Patient Experience

How has running and jogging benefitted you?

Running - Risks of Running

Have you experienced injuries from running? What were they?

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