Running and walking are the easiest, cheapest and most immediate types of exercise we can do to preserve our body, lose weight or stay in shape. Unfortunately, age, past injuries and joint problems may cause this workout to feel painful and unrewarding.
If you suffer joint pain during running or walking, it doesn't mean you have to stop. You just have to know how to do it the right way. That is why I'd like to give you a few tips to avoid pain and physical damage while you work out.
1. Add low resistance training to your schedule.
Running and walking are not the only activities you can do. It is recommended to combine other styles of training that work on cardiovascular endurance and do not apply strong pressure on the joints. This can be elliptical training (on an elliptical machine), biking, swimming, dancing, etc. These other activities will even improve your skill at running. You can try to combine 3 running workouts with 2 low resistance workouts instead of running to fill your week.
2. Eat less iodine
A diet that includes very little iodine can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and other pains while allowing the body to better recover after a workout.
A few foods you should avoid:
Chocolate (excluding dark chocolate)
A few foods you should eat:
Fresh fruits and vegetables
3. Get off the road and pavement
Running or walking on hard concrete treats your joints to regular, hard shocks. Running or walking on softer land such as the beach, regular earth or grass is much more forgiving for your joints and will inflict less damage. Also, if you run or walk on a dirt road, each step you take will be a little different, and so impact a different point in the joint - a preferred result to applying that same pressure on the same part of the joint over and over again.
4. Run the way you feel
Avoid running in a pre-determined rhythm, especially when you have to fight for it and already feel like it's hard for you, as you risk inflammation and pain. Run according to your feeling and be attentive to your breathing. Choose the effort that's right for you according to your level of fitness and the level of pain you are experiencing.
Light effort - You need to be able to talk while you run. If you can't, you're working too hard.
Medium effort - One level harder, which you get to when you can already hear your breathing very clearly, but still control it.
Hard effort - Your breathing should be labored and you are straining, but still in control. If you don't feel as if you are in control of your breathing, you've crossed the line between hard effort and an effort that harms you.
5. Exercise regularly
Studies show that regular physical activity can help protect you from health issues in both the short and long term future. You should always be moving. Don't avoid running for long periods of time and then suddenly return to a hard effort run, because that's a great way to hurt yourselves. The more regular your exercise, the better for your joints.
6. Get a good warm-up
Running on 'cold muscles' can aggravate joint pain. Put time into warming up to increase the flow of blood to the muscles you are about to work with. A warm shower before and after the run may also help, literally warming up the muscles. This method is especially effective for those running in the cold hours of the morning.
7. Change your running shoes on time
First, invest in good running shoes that will take pressure off your joints. Second, replace those shoes every 500-650 km (300-400 miles). Why? Because no matter how good the shoes, they WILL lose the ability to protect your joints from shocks after that amount of usage.
8. Reduce long-distance running or walking
There is no objective measure for what a long distance is. Long-distance is any distance that FEELS long for you and your body. If you like running for longer distances during the weekend, it is a good idea letting your body heal. Instead of taking that long run every weekend, do it every two weeks or even every three. You can still run on the weekend, but try not to overload yourselves. Many people feel better when they do the distances over a few workouts, especially as we get older.
9. Try a combination of running and walking
Instead of applying pressure to the joints during your entire workout, try to combine a 3-4 minute run with a 1-2 minute walk, alternating between the two as you continue on your workout. You'll be able to feel the difference from the very first workout, and your joints will thank you for the little breaks, in the pressure you give them.