Is Running Really Worth It?

 Source | Pixabay

Source | Pixabay

I’m sure you have heard of conflicting advice about running at least once or twice in your life; everything from fast tracking into arthritis to “worsening the lower back and knees”. Amidst the aches and injuries stories, it can leave you wondering, “Is Running really right for me?”

We all know that running is a great cardio exercise to supplement your fitness journey. But it seems that one injury (or taking a risk for that matter) has the capability to scare a person away from turning the speed up on the treadmill. At one point, it was enough to send me to the elliptical after years of being conditioned to the old adage: “You know, bad knees run in our family.” Pun & Cringe.

I decided to clear some things up. Here is a general Q&A on why I think running may be worth your while:

Doesn’t running cause inflammation issues?

Every time you go out for a run, your muscles will cause small tears or micro tears. These tears are what causes the inflammation but it is not a bad thing! The damages in the muscles are repair and rebuild by specialized inflammatory cells. When repaired, your muscles become stronger which is why running is ideal for adding strength.

If running produces serious pain, you will have to stop until your doctor can properly evaluate any underlying conditions. I wouldn’t be too wary of the soreness from the inflammation experienced after a running sesh; unless it is painful and intolerable to walk.

To reduce inflammation quickly, consider what you are eating first before looking for external remedies. If you still eating heavily processed foods and guzzling sugary sports drinks, you are consuming things that contribute to inflammatory reactions. Begin to add more anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, garlic, spinach, tart cherries, ginger, and omega fatty acids.

Why does running cause injuries?

I grew up hearing how running is bad for your knees and that it can lead to knee arthritis later in life; but there is nothing concrete that proves the claims. In fact, it appears that runners tend to be healthier because it improves cardiovascular function. The active lifestyle leads to a smaller likelihood of developing heart diseases, heart attacks, diabetes, and issues related to obesity.

However, running injuries do occur and typical clinical issues are: shin splints, hamstring strains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and patellofemoral pain syndrome. Most of these injuries are a result of repetitive and excessive use of the activity. These types of injuries can be further prevented with proper use of stretching before and after a run and rest. Another item to consider for the stretching routine is using a foam roller to stretch the tougher muscles like the hamstrings and quads.

What does running have to do with Mental Wellness?

Most mental wellness experts can agree: running has a way of enhancing happiness. It is also great for treating depression, anxiety, providing mental clarity, improves sleep, and for boosting self-esteem. On a physical level, running increases joint lubrication and supports the reticular activating system.

The only red flag when it comes to running and mental wellness is excessively using running as an excuse to ward off stress or to simply feel good. Hyperactivity can lead to injuries. Furthermore, a poorly injured individual should not hamper the body with more stress just for the sake of “getting a run in”. Use caution when you find yourself desiring to overdo it.

So Is Running Really Worth It?

Yes, absolutely! Like every exercise out there, be sure to approach it with preventative measures like a great stretching routine. Running has proven benefits that encompass both the physical and mental well-being. Also, don’t just jump into running a mile too! Take time to build the stamina by adopting a walk/run routine where every ½ mile you run and then walk for another. Running takes time for the body to adapt to so treat your body and the activity with respect.

Now, all you have to do is find a good pair of running shoes. Hey look! I found a few for you: