Is it ok to run with arthritis? It is a common misconception that running is bad for your knees.
The fact of the matter is everyone is different. For some people, running may not be the right exercise due to arthritis or a musculoskeletal condition. But it isn’t the case for everyone.
Having a regular exercise routine is beneficial for people with arthritis as it can help to strengthen the joints, muscles and is good for wellbeing. Read more about staying active with arthritis.
If you do want to start running or you are preparing to step up your distance, you should:
As lockdown eases, it’s important to choose an exercise you feel comfortable with. If you don’t fancy the gym right now, that’s ok. Making the most of being outside during these summer months might be your preferred choice. If you are still working from home, going for a run or jog will get you moving and has the potential to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Research has shown that getting out in nature can boost your mood, from the serotonin-boosting sunlight to being amongst the green spaces in your local park.
If you want help to get started, you can try the Couch to 5K app and work through a gradual combination of walking and jogging. If you prefer to do an event, look out for updates from Parkrun, as the 5K events are gradually returning in July and August across England, Scotland and Wales. They have started again in Northern Ireland.
It’s important that you warm up before and cool down after exercise to avoid injury. A good warm up should include a mixture of exercises that stretch and strengthen your muscles, as well as work on balance techniques.
Spend five minutes cooling down afterwards, stretching out your major muscle groups, particularly the hips, knees and ankles. Massage, compression stockings and a cold bath followed by a hot shower can help you recover too.
Set goals and gradually increase what you do in each session, so your body becomes accustomed to any additional activity.
Try different terrains and see what is best for you. Running downhill can be harder for some people and it might be better to stick to the flat or off-road paths.
Mixing walking, flexibility exercises for your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves and trying low-impact aerobic exercise, such as aqua running will help to improve your fitness.
Do not ignore twinges or run when you are injured.
It’s a good idea to go to a sports shop to get your gait assessed and get advice on your running style and buying the right shoes. Having well-fitting shoes reduces the chances of blisters and other injuries and can help your running technique.
Shops will allow you to try on shoes to test them and feel what is comfortable.
Keep it simple by limiting high-sugar and high fat foods. Eat plenty of fruits, veggies and wholegrains. These will help you to feel good and keep your blood sugar stable.
Your muscles will also need protein to grow and recover, which can be found in meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and legumes.
Make sure you’re keeping yourself hydrated as this will helps ensure your joints are adequately lubricated. Aim for at least 6 to 8 glasses a day. Water, lower fat milk, lower sugar drinks, tea and coffee all count towards this.