Are there negative effects related to running?

    Are there any harmful side effects to running or jogging?

    — Anonymous

    Running and jogging have gained a lot of popularity over the years. With treadmills, tracks and trails nearly everywhere you go, it is almost impossible not to spend a chunk of time huffing and puffing away in the name of exercise. However, it is possible to overwork your body.

    According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, overuse injuries most often occur because of a runner’s training error (running too far, too fast, too soon). For every mile ran, the feet must absorb 110 tons of energy. It is not surprising that up to 70 percent of runners develop an injury every year. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation emphasizes that while many of these injuries will appear minor, they can become more serious over time if not properly treated. Here is a list of some common injuries the academy says can occur due to running:

    Runner’s knee: This is the most common running-related injury. Also known as patello-femoral pain, runner’s knee is irritation of the cartilage in the kneecap. While running, various mechanical conditions may predispose runners to a weak kneecap. This can result in irritation and/or damage to the kneecap. Runners will notice pain near the kneecap, especially after sitting for extended periods of time with knees bent or while walking down stairs or downhill. Appropriate treatment involves eliminating or modifying activities that cause the pain, correcting improper movements that allow the injury to arise and avoiding positions that further irritate the condition.

    Iliotibial band syndrome: Symptoms of this syndrome include pain or aching of the knee, usually occurring in the middle or at the end of a run. When you flex and extend your knee, the iliotibial band, which runs along the outside of the thigh, can become irritated from repetitively rubbing the knee. There are several causes of this syndrome, including weak gluteal muscles, bowed legs, leg length discrepancy and running on uneven surfaces. Running on a circular track may also contribute to the problem. As with other running injuries, athletes with iliotibial band syndrome should decrease their training regimen. In addition, they should add stretches for the outside of their thigh to their warmup program, avoid running on uneven or circular track surfaces, and some should wear motion-control running shoes.

    Shin splints: Also called medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints refers to pain occurring in either the front or inner portions of the lower leg. Tenderness extends along the length of the lower leg at either of those surfaces. Those most at risk for shin splints are beginning runners who are not yet used to the stresses of running or who have not stretched or strengthened properly. To care for shin splints, runners should decrease their training and begin with ice and rest, and later strengthen the lower leg muscles. They may use swimming and biking as alternative forms of exercise.

    Achilles tendonitis: The Achilles tendon is the connection between the heel and the muscles of the lower leg. Several factors contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis, including excessive hill running, sudden increases in training and improper shoes. One of the major symptoms is excessive tightness of the posterior muscles of the leg, including the calf muscles and the hamstrings. Runners with this condition should reduce their running, and use ice and gentle stretching to reduce pain and tightness. If not treated properly, Achilles tendonitis can develop into a chronic problem.

    Heel pain (heel spurs and plantar fasciitis): The most common heel problems are caused by strain of the plantar fascia, a ligament that extends from the heel to the toes. The condition can cause swelling at the origin of the plantar fascia at the heel. The pain is most noticeable when the foot flattens during weightbearing or when pushing off with the toes during walking or running. The problems tend to occur most frequently in flat, flexible feet and in high-arched stiff feet. Left untreated, the pain can spread around the heel. Treatment should include a decrease in the intensity and duration of running workouts. Runners should also regularly evaluate their running shoes for excessive wear and for proper fit. The wrong shoe for a foot type can worsen biomechanical flaws and cause plantar fasciitis.

    Keeping these injuries in mind, it might be a good idea to vary your routine. Instead of jogging every day, try lesser-impact exercises like yoga and swimming. Doing this will have better long-term effects on your body and make your workout routine more interesting.

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