While there’s no doubt that running offers huge benefits to health, aiding everything from weight loss and fitness to reducing your risk of a range of diseases associated with inactivity, if you do not take precautions it can bring with it its own problems. Here we look at some of the dangers of running if you don’t take a sensible approach and how you can ensure you stay problem free.
Injury to Soft Tissues
Sense dictates that if you’re going to run for more than just to catch a bus you need to warm up before you take off. However, not everyone does, which increases your risk of pulled muscles, sprains, strains and damage to tendons and ligaments. Sustaining these injuries is frustrating, as they can set your training and fitness back, which is especially disappointing if there is a race looming. If you just plan to do an everyday run, walk a block or two and do some stretches to loosen up and increase blood flow to your muscles and joints. However, if you’re looking at getting up to speed during the session, start by alternating walking and jogging for 10 minutes or so, then follow this with another 10 minutes of stretching and drills such as skipping and high knees. Incorporate some resistance exercise into your training, as this will strengthen your joints – examples include use of weight machines, resistance bands, squats and lunges. Additionally, avoid training on hard surfaces, as this increase the impact on your joints.
Dangers of Over-hydration
You’re probably more than aware that you risk dehydration when you run a distance, particularly if it’s a hot day. Consequently you ensure you drink plenty before you set out, take your water bottle with you, perhaps even refill on the way round and then drink more when your session or race is over. However, did you know that drinking too much can be even worse for your body than dehydration? This is especially an issue if it’s simply water that you’re drinking to top up your fluid levels.
When you drink more than your body is losing, which might be the case if you overestimate how much you are sweating, this dilutes your body’s salts, which you are already losing in sweat. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride are essential for processes in the body such as maintaining muscle function and heartbeat; an imbalance of these can be fatal. Signs to be aware of that you have taken too much fluid on board are extreme tiredness, dizziness, nausea and muscle weakness; if allowed to progress you may lose consciousness or experience seizures. While these electrolyte disturbances can be treated if recognized, prevention is always better than cure. To avoid this happening to you, only drink according to thirst; this way you can ensure that you only provide your body with as much fluid as it needs. Then if you will be running for more than an hour or will be pushing yourself hard on a shorter training session, swap your water for a sport drink, as this contains added electrolytes.
Increased Stress on Your Heart
Running will help you to achieve a lower blood pressure and pulse while at rest, so on a day to day basis your heart will be under less strain. However, if you push yourself hard and run for extended periods of time on a regular basis you might be doing more harm than is good. A study published in the British Medical Journal’s Heart publication last autumn found that intense activity in the longer term didn’t provide greater benefits for heart health and could affect both the structure and electrical activity of the heart; they concluded that people were best to keep vigorous activity to under an hour each day.
Reduced Immune Function
Although regular moderate activity can provide your immune system with a boost, taking part in frequent strenuous exercise can make you more susceptible to infections. There is some research that suggests just 90 minutes of intense activity can hamper your immune system for the three days following the exercise; this might relate to the release of adrenaline during such activity, which places a stress on the immune system. If you can’t avoid long strenuous training sessions, make sure you build in rest days each week to allow your body not just chance to physically recover, but to reduce your risk of developing colds, flu and chest infections, which will interfere with training and your performance. However, managing stress in your life, not smoking and eating a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables will also help to ward off infections.
Don’t let these potential problems put you off running, simply take some precautions to guard against them and remember you can do too much of a good thing, so build up gradually and don’t try to run too far too soon.
Written by freelance writer, Eve Pearce
*If you’re interested in snagging a spot for a guest post, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to discuss details! Topics can be success stories, tips, recipes, etc. as long as it’s related to healthy living.19 notes
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