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Running with Arthritis: 10 Tips for Marathon Training

Arthritis is a painful condition which can interfere with life at every turn, but this is no excuse to give up completely and avoid challenging your body with marathon training. In fact, physical activity might be exactly what your joints need right now, as these actions are proven to ward off pain and stiffness.

Running with Arthritis: 10 Tips for Marathon Training

On that note, many sufferers have turned to marathon running to keep their joints moving and their weight shrinking (while even reducing the risk of certain types of osteoarthritis too). If you have arthritis and think you’re up for the task, don’t miss these essential tips to safely pursuing marathon training:

1. Speak to Your Doctor
Before developing a training routine, it is recommended that you get permission from a medical professional first. Running is considered a form of high-impact exercise and you may be advised against a full marathon especially when it comes to spine, hip, knee, or ankle arthritis. But do not let this break your determination! Simply ask about your limitations and then adjust your goals accordingly.

2. Take Your Training Days Slow
Training is one thing, but the time around your training also requires a cautious approach. Ensure that your workspace is appropriately comfortable, straighten your posture frequently, and stretch your body at regular intervals. Take these days slow to save your joints for later.

3. Focus on Your Diet
If you’re eating too much sugar or refined carbs, then you are adding unnecessary pounds to your frame as well as potentially provoking further inflammation. Keep your meals healthy with an abundance of fruit and vegetables, while consuming as many omega-3 food sources as possible (such as flaxseeds, soybeans, and fish).

4. Try Water Aerobics
Every athlete’s overall fitness would improve with a little bit of cross-training. And when it comes to low-impact exercises which place minimal pressure on the joints, nothing will beat the weightlessness of a swimming pool. Every muscle group gets activated, your cardiovascular stamina will increase, and you will shed those excess pounds in record time.

5. Walk and Cycle
Before you leap straight into your running training, you may want to start with a few walking sessions. By gradually increasing your distance and speed, you will not only strengthen your muscles but you also get to enjoy fresh outdoor air. Another fantastic option for a low-impact workout would be cycling, but be aware of any wrists issues. If you are in pain, consider purchasing some compression gloves to reduce inflammation and stiffness in your hands and wrists.

6. Take Classes
Whether you’re interested in pilates, yoga, or tai chi, any of these practices can be very advantageous to your training as a whole. You can work at your own pace while stretching out your muscles, developing an improved sense of balance, and clearing your mind all at the same time. Once again, please speak to your doctor beforehand and always inform your instructor about any conditions.

7. Modify Your Running Style
When you finally hit the road, your primary concern should be the impact of your foot against the floor. To lessen the strike, experiment with different running techniques, such as the shortening your strides to lighten the weight of each step, or intermittently slowing down to a walk. Do not concern yourself with conquering your best time, focus on reaching the end!

8. Run on Softer Terrain
It’s important to remember that the more cushioned your landing is, the less impact it will have on your joints. A soft nature trail or a treadmill are smart options, but it’s also a good idea to regularly switch up your training terrain in order to prevent overuse injuries. Furthermore, never overlook the importance of wearing the correct shoes, as ill-fitting ones can seriously mess with your body’s alignment and cause joint tension very quickly.

9. Warm Up Extensively
Unfortunately, those living with arthritis need to warm up much more rigorously than their competitors. This is because your cold, inflexible muscles can severely aggravate any underlying issues and may stop your journey long before the finish line. Make it a priority to spend a decent amount of time dynamically stretching your limbs out and taking a walk until your muscles are heated and ready to go.

10. Listen to Your Body
It’s always satisfying to push your limits, but it’s also important to know when to slow down and even more important to know when to stop. If you increase your training too hard or too fast, your joints may inflame which could require a lengthy recovery period just to get back to square one. Rather feel it out by noting your aches, then taking a small break whenever these pains appear to persist or escalate.

-By James Flemming

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