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Running (cont.)

Risks of Running

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.

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