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Stomping out Common Myths About Running

Don’t let common misconceptions about running stop you from trying, arguably, the most efficient, economical, and emotionally satisfying forms of exercise. As avid runners and doctors who treat them, we at Central Massachusetts Podiatry put five common myths about running to rest.

  1. Running is hard on your body.

Running is healthy for most people. It can help prevent osteoporosis, is great for your heart, burns lots of calories, and reduces stress. True, some body types may be less conducive to running, such as those whose feet excessively pronate inward. But pronation and most other feet, ankle and knee issues can usually be offset by choosing the proper running shoe (we can help with that), or with the use of custom orthotics (we can help with that too). As for the myth that running causes arthritis, researchers at Stanford University compared the progression of knee osteoarthritis in distance runners and non-runners over 18 years and found no difference between the groups. To avoid injuries, beginners should start off slowly; try intervals of running and walking. Also, avoid running on concrete, which can be hard on joints. Instead, choose synthetic tracks, treadmills, grass, asphalt or dirt trails.

  1. Stretch before you run.

We know, your middle school gym coach drilled this one in. But he or she was wrong. Today’s prevailing wisdom is that what matters most for athletes, including runners, is having the functional range of motion necessary to perform the specific activities involved in their sport. Running requires that you move your legs in the functional range. Rather than those kinetic hamstring stretches, instead chose dynamic warm-up moves, such as performing a series of lunges.

  1. Running is only for the young.

Just because you didn’t start running as a teenager, doesn’t mean you can’t now that you’re the parent of one. To the contrary, running is a great way to maintain muscle strength and flexibility, as you age. During the first 50 years of the Boston marathon, which started in 1897, entrants in their late 30s or early 40s were considered headline-worthy. But at last year’s event the rooster included nearly 1,500 runners between ages 65 and 84, nearly half of whom finished the entire 26.2 miles.

  1. Running in the cold will freeze your lungs.

Even in the North Pole runners needn’t worry about lung damage, provided they dress appropriately. To prevent runner's cough incurred from cold, dry air, wear a scarf. When dressing to run in the cold, add 10-20 degrees to the outside temperature to calculate your running temperature.

  1. Pregnant women shouldn’t run.

No longer are pregnant women exiled to 9 months of sitting on the couch watching Dr. Phil. These days healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to get regular exercise, which can include running. Women should first check with their OB/GYNs, but most will tell you that running isn’t only perfectly safe, but can actually decreased the risk of developing medical complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, help control pregnancy weight gain, and improve general well-being throughout pregnancy. How often, far and fast a pregnant woman should run depends on what she did before and how she’s currently feeling.

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