Running with Arthritis: Do’s and Don’ts for Pain Management

Running is good for your health! But when it comes to certain bone and joint-related conditions, such as arthritis, it’s best to exercise caution. You may not want to run too fast or too long or you will end up exacerbating your joint pain. If your daily training includes running with arthritis, an orthopedic wants you to know what to do and what not to do for safety.

What is arthritis?

Experiencing pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints is a common complaint among people, often indicating the presence of arthritis. Arthritis encompasses various disorders such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and the most common type, osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, can affect people of all ages, but it is seen more often in older people due to joint wear and tear and improper care. The condition primarily affects the elbows, hips, and knees, progressively worsening over time and making daily activities difficult.

Given the circumstances, it’s understandable that people wonder what activities they can or can’t do with arthritis. A frequently asked question is whether it is okay to run with arthritis or to exercise with arthritis.

Dr Rajesh Kumar Verma, Consultant – Orthopedics, Manipal Hospital, Ghaziabad says the answer is YES! “In general, it is acceptable to run with arthritis. However, certain guidelines must be followed”, adds the expert.

Don’t stop exercising because of arthritis. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips for running with arthritis

Dr. Verma has outlined what people should and shouldn’t do when they want to run with a pre-existing arthritic condition.

What to do to run with arthritis

* Consult a doctor: Each individual has different levels of joint damage, and because of this, your range of symptoms can vary. Before starting a running routine, the advice of a doctor who knows the patient’s condition well can help to develop a risk and injury prevention plan.

* Start slowly: Start with a proper warm-up and gradually start walking, then increase the duration and intensity of your runs. Allow the body to adapt to the impact and stress on the joints.

* Choose the right footwear: Invest in well-cushioned running shoes that provide adequate support and shock absorption, and shock-absorbing knee pads for support.

* Watch out for any pain: Pay attention to any pain or discomfort during and after your run. If joint pain, swelling, or stiffness increases, take a break and switch to lower-impact exercises.

* Get plenty of rest and do flexibility exercises: Rest is important for muscles to recover and gain strength. It’s a good idea to do flexibility stretches to ease joint stiffness after running.

Also Read: Ease Arthritis Pain With Weight Loss: 4 Exercises That Can Help

Stretching exercises for arthritis pain
Keep your body flexible. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What not to do when running with arthritis

* Exaggerate: Avoid overexerting yourself and pushing through the pain. Running or exercising with pain can make the inflammation even worse and last longer.

* Neglect recovery: Allow your body plenty of time to rest and recover between running sessions. This helps prevent overuse injuries and gives joints a chance to heal and recover.

* Run on uneven or hard surfaces: Run on softer surfaces like grass, tracks, or muddy ground with adequate cushioning. Avoid running on concrete or other hard surfaces that can increase the impact on your joints.

* Ignore joint pain or swelling: If constant running causes significant pain, swelling, or joint instability, then one should switch to gentler forms of exercise such as swimming and yoga. This will help them stay active without damaging their joints.

Pro Advice for Runners

Keep in mind that each person’s running and arthritis experience is unique and depends on a variety of circumstances, including the severity of the condition and specific symptoms. Always seek the personalized advice and direction of a physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

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