For some, running is an option to consider only if chased by wild animals. For others, it’s an enjoyable activity, well known for its health benefits. If you love to run, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about the positive and negative effects. Count on your chiropractor to have many wise insights into this activity.
A chiropractor’s knowledge of the human body and its musculoskeletal system can keep you on track to better health over your lifetime.
The benefits of a proper running routine are well known:
Like other intense physical activities, running can be counterproductive to your health. For example, overtraining may weaken your immune system or, in extreme cases, lead to heart damage and rhythm disorders.
For those who have been physically checked out, though, running and other types of high intensity, short-duration workouts can provide many health benefits in a relatively short amount of time.
From a study conducted and published in Physical Therapy in Sport, runners were assessed for any implication that running may negatively affect proper spinal biomechanics – specifically the optimal position of the lumbar (lower back) spine.
This study found that a four-week minimalist running training program produced significant changes in lumbar biomechanics. Specifically, runners adopted a more extended lumbar posture and reduced activation of the three muscle groups that support your back.
The lumbar spine should typically have a C-shaped curvature for optimal health and function. When running, this curvature is extended, or there is an increase in curvature greater than what the normal, healthy lumbar curve should be.
Also, the muscles surrounding and protecting the lumbar spine are not activated during running, causing other areas of the spine to compensate. This can cause lumbar spine instability and lower crossed syndrome (LCS). LCS is a neuromuscular condition with tight and weak muscles, which can lead to injury and chronic low back pain.
There are things that can help avoid or prevent injury when running is your favorite physical activity. It’s always good to discuss such practices with your chiropractor, as everyone’s body is unique. The publication Spine-Health discussed effective preventive measures runners can take to avoid problems.
1. A thorough warm-up before beginning a run to increase blood flow.
Examples include general stretching, simple exercises like jumping jacks, or a set of arm circles.
2. A significant emphasis should be on stretching the hamstring muscles.
The hamstrings are the large muscles in the back of the thigh. To perform a standing hamstring stretch, extend your leg and place the heel on a slightly raised surface. Keeping your spine straight, gently bend at the hip to bring the chest toward the thigh. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
3. Include general muscle toning and strength training.
Particularly important in running activities are strong core muscles in the back. Cross-training techniques can also be useful, with the goal of not causing an overuse syndrome.
4. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
Remember, each heel strike produces a force equal to 3 to 4 times your body weight. The low-top canvas gym shoes you like to wear all the time are no match for running on any hard surface.
Whether you run for the health benefits or enjoy that runner’s high, remember that your chiropractor is a ready resource for addressing musculoskeletal pain or conditions. Chiropractors can recommend many manual treatments and therapies if indicated following a comprehensive physical assessment.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.