Running is one of the most challenging exercises that you can do outside of the gym. It challenges your entire body as well as your motivation. Running as you age can be a rewarding way to keep your health and vitality. High impact activities are one of the best ways to keep up bone density as you age according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
However, isn’t running bad for your joints? And won’t running after age 50 damage your body?
People Stop Running Between Ages 55 to 59
As people age, they begin to stop running. According to Runner’s World, there is a huge drop in competitive running among people ages 55 to 59.
One of the reasons that Runner’s World noted this drop-off was from people being sidelined by non-running injuries and things like arthritis. With arthritis as a concern as you age should you stop running altogether?
The Myth of Running and Arthritis
Many people automatically assume that high impact activities like running will be bad for your joints. It is a common misconception that people who run are going to develop arthritis because of the high impact activity. In a study released highlighted by Runner’s World magazine people who ran are half as likely to develop arthritis or need a hip replacement when compared to those who walked for exercise. This study seems to highlight the opposite of the traditional myth that running is bad for your joints.
What Can Running After 50 Do for Me?
You become part of the aging athlete population. One of the things that many people don’t realize about studies on aging is that they are done based on a sample of a traditional pool of people.
In modern society, most people who age become sedentary and tend to be overweight. According to Women’s Running, being an aging athlete will provide you with an edge above the traditional studied pool of aging people.
To begin with when you age you will see things like a reduced aerobic capacity, reduced maximal heart rate, and reduced blood volume. Luckily, for athletes, these problems are not as detrimental because of the training protocols.
Athletes will already have higher tidal volumes, lower resting, and working heart rates, and increased blood volumes. These physiological factors can greatly decrease some of the symptoms of aging.
What Will Affect My Joints When I Run?
When you run, you have to rely on your strength and your flexibility to keep you going. These are two elements that could be the reason we see the myth of running is bad for your joints past age 50.
As we age our muscle, fibers weaken and we lose our flexibility. According to Very well increased stiffness in your legs , hips, and back can increase your sense of pain when running. When you don’t have any flexibility in your tendons, this increases the force put on your joints when you move. The result can be an injury.
What should you do to prevent flexibility related running injuries to your joints after age 50? The simple answer is to incorporate a flexibility and stretching routine into your workouts. Some dynamic stretching should be completed before your run. In addition, if you notice any tightness or joint pain while running, you can incorporate dynamic stretches into the middle of your run.
Another element to injury prevention for the older runner is balance. Yoga and other balance activities are going to increase your ability to compensate for uneven ground and the loss of balance that we experience as we age. One of the biggest reasons that people get injured when running is falling. Making sure you have the balance to stay on your feet will keep your joints injury free.
Now you know the truth about running after age 50. Get out there and run as often as you want. Make sure you follow common sense about injury prevention and your joints will remain injury free.