Marathon month has begun, which ties in perfectly with the last in our “Summer of Sport” mini-series, which is all about running! A popular pastime, which many people took up during the pandemic for both their physical and mental wellbeing.
Health Benefits of Running
Did you know that running Is a weight bearing exercise? This means it will help to strengthen muscles and encourage strong bones and overall strength in the joints. Running is also a great way of burning calories with increasing intensity, resulting in more calories burnt, which will encourage maintenance of a healthy weight.
As running is an aerobic activity, another key benefit is on your cardiovascular system. As you improve your fitness your body becomes more efficient at transporting oxygen and blood around the body putting less strain on your heart, especially when at rest. This is why so many more older people are now taking up running and it is known to protect the heart and can prevent early death according to studies.*
As well as physical benefits, your mental health will also thank you, especially if you choose to run outdoors and in a quiet environment, allowing you to destress and wind down after your normal day. As fitness improves you may also consider taking part in a running challenge, such as a 5K, half marathon, or in time a full marathon. Here are some popular ones to look at if this is something you’d love to work towards:
Race for Life - https://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/
The Big Half - https://www.thebighalf.co.uk/
The London Marathon - https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/
How to get involved
There are a number of local running clubs you could join as well as apps and websites that allow you to see local running routes others in your area have completed. For some individuals you will be able to get out and run in any environment for as long as you want, but for others, having a structured training plan and splitting the run into run/jog and walk sections can really help to get the most out of the activity while also staying motivated. The NHS better health web page list two popular apps that have helped individuals start moving with the most popular being the Couch to 5K app.
The key is to not overdo it so that you’re unable to run for a number of weeks. It takes time to build up stamina and if you do too much too soon you may run the risk of injury, which will set you back and could cause short or longer term problems.
Potential injury risks
As with all exercises there is some potential injury risks with running and these mostly will relate to the lower limbs. The main issues seen are sprained ankles, which is either down to the footwear used or the surface that you are running on, or various knee issues (runners knee) as a result of the repetitive nature of running with the added impact of the ground.
People can also develop issues with their Achilles tendon, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. All these issues usually involve a period of rest following an overuse of the muscles and tendons.
How to avoid injury
To limit the risks of injury, firstly look at your running shoes.I If they are the same pair of trainers you have had since school and have seen better days then it would be advisable to get a new pair, as they are likely to not be offering you any support or protection against the impact forces that are applied to the joints during a run. For extra support, you may want to consider an insole with zones of support and cushioning to encourage pressure redistribution, such as our range of NeoThotics silicone orthotic insoles.
Secondly, plan your route and don’t overdo it! If you are going to be running a new route that you haven’t done before it’s advisable to either walk the route first or check out what surface you are likely to be running on. The last thing you want to do is be caught out by a loose gravel section and then slipping while running causing a muscle or tendon injury or doing too much too soon and having to stop running all together whilst you recover.
Thirdly, as with all exercise doing a proper warm up and dynamic stretching to prime the body for the activity ahead is key. Likewise when you have finished, a cool down and static stretches are advised to limit soreness the next day. Here are some simple stretches to do before and after a run to avoid possible injury - https://www.neo-g.co.uk/blogs/news/simple-stretches-to-support-your-lifestyle
Finally, if you have a particular weakness or a common injury that keeps occurring despite warming up correctly, then getting some advice from a medical professional would be advised, as it may be that your body alignment is putting excessive strain on muscles not designed to take the full load of your body. You may be advised to follow a strengthening program or reduce the intensity of your runs, potentially just using treadmills. Alternatively, you may be advised to use a support to either help with alignment and any swelling or to help with the vibrations in the joints.
At Neo G we offer a variety of supports for running. All our ranges have various characteristics, such as silicone inserts to help with the vibrations, shaping of the supports to help with patella tracking and additional flexible metal stays to help provide further support to the joints without limiting movement.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our “Summer of Sport” mini-series and it has inspired you to try out a new sport or take on a new sporting challenge!
Our Active range of knitted supports provide a snug, yet flexible fit during sporting and occupational activities. Multi Zone Compression surrounds muscles and joints for targeted support and the multi-way stretch allows flexible and safe movement, providing comfortable support and reducing the likelihood of injury. The specialist breathable fabric helps control moisture during intense activities, whilst the slimline, lightweight design means it can easily be worn under clothes for everyday wear.
Our VCS range offers varying levels of support from mild to moderate to firm to provide optimum protection and stability. As a one size solution, these supports are fully adjustable to allow for a custom fit. In addition to this, the heat therapeutic neoprene helps to warm muscles and joints during exercise and rehabilitation, making the VCS range perfect for supporting instability during weights and gym training, as well as helping strains, sprains and weak, arthritic joints.
If its rest and recovery you need, our hot and cold therapy range offers just that. While heat therapy helps to target muscle and joint pain by relaxing muscles and improving blood flow, cold therapy works to tackle muscle swelling, soothing aches and pains.
Read more in our full Hot & Cold Therapy post.