The long-awaited London Marathon took place this weekend, igniting sporting passions and aspirations all across the country. It is hard to watch such incredible feats of endurance and fitness without feeling the flickers of temptation and contemplation. Next year, could it be you?
However, many of those feeling inspired to don their trainers may be hesitant due to concerns about the impact of running on their joints – a common misconception as described by consultant rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes, comments: ‘Any worries that the joints might “wear out” quicker with exercise is untrue and strong muscles protect adjacent joints. Exercise helps to strengthen joints and their surrounding tissues, aiding pain and stiffness, and keeping supporting tissues strong and supple.’
However, prioritising joint care does help to reduce the risk of injuries, shown in studies to affect up to 79% of regular runners in any given year, with potential to hinder training efforts. In addition, the repetitive nature of running, combined with high intensity pressure on load-bearing joints, can amplify initially minor problems and lead to the build-up of chronic injuries over time, including the development of musculoskeletal conditions.
Discussing the impact of running on joints, esteemed sports physiotherapist Sammy Margo comments: ‘Joint stiffness or pain, especially in the load-bearing joints such as the knees or hips, could be a warning sign for the start of something more serious and can affect anyone at any age or ability. Young adults are just as at risk of developing joint conditions from repetitive injuries or over usage as an adult that experiences arthritic conditions due to their age.’
Injuries to the knee are the most common issue for runners, but hip and ankle joints can also be problematic. Although being active is thought to provide a level of protection against osteoarthritis, research has suggested that sports injuries can increase the risk of developing the condition, as well as seriously impacting on training and potentially jeopardising event day, so proactive joint care is crucial.
Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can help to protect and prolong joint health. With events attracting a full spectrum of abilities, prospective runners need to do all they can to care for their joints during the build-up. Sammy adds: ‘Early intervention is key, especially when enjoying high-impact sports, and careful preparation, such as adding a supplement to your daily routine, and maintaining a well-balanced and varied diet, can offer additional support to achieving optimal joint health.’
Ensure that you’re fully prepared and help to protect your joints with this running joint care checklist:
Best foot forward: Ensure that you have invested in properly fitted, well cushioned running shoes to help increase stability for joints. With a multitude of styles to choose from, ensure you do your research and choose a pair suited to your foot shape, arch type and strike pattern.
- Start as you mean to go on. A thorough and proper warm up targeting all the major joints is important. An active warm up help blood flow to the muscles supporting the joints and aids synovial fluid flow, which in turn helps to reduce friction. A good warm up should also help you focus.
- Add an anti-inflammatory supplement to your diet. Anti-inflammatory compounds can help to calm the immune response that can be damaging to joint tissues. GOPO Joint Health Plus Ginger contains specially cultivated rose-hip powder and ginger, which have been clinically reviewed to support healthy joint and muscle function, while relieving stiff joints the morning after intense exercise.
- Stretch and strengthen. Regular stretching helps to keep joints and tendons flexible. If muscles are tight, the range of motion can feel restricted which adds extra pressure to the joint tissues. Strong muscles and regular stretching ensure the joints are well-supported.
- Take it easy. Start gradually and listen to your body to avoid over doing it and the risk of injury. Don’t ignore injuries and hope they will simply disappear; this may cause permanent issues long term. Seek professional help for injuries to give your body the best care possible.
GOPO Joint Health Plus Ginger is the first UK supplement to contain the unique combination of ginger extracts with the powerful anti-inflammatory GOPO® – a galactolipid extracted from the seeds and husks of the rosa canina plant. The double anti-inflammatory effects of GOPO and ginger combined provide targeted relief to safeguard your joints and maintain an active lifestyle. Ginger has been shown to activate anti-inflammatory proteins to reduce morning joint stiffness and muscle pain by 25%. In conjunction, GOPO has been shown to regenerate cartilage and improve joint flexibility.