To win this battle, build strength. The stronger your muscles, the better able you are to withstand the forces from the ground that make everything hurt. High repetition, light weight strength training has been shown to reduce joint loading forces. Stronger muscles including hip flexors, glutes, quads and hamstrings are better able to withstand the pounding on the road and allow runners to better tolerate the miles, although scientists still haven’t found the perfect training method.
If you are a runner or walker, consider a full body strength program, such as The Times’s 9 Minute Workout, that incorporates functional movements like squats, lunges and burpees. Try and complete the regimen twice a week to build total body strength.
Find comfortable running shoes.
One of the most important choices a runner makes is what shoes to buy.
Studies show that most runners choose their running shoes based on comfort, price and recommendations from peers, which aren’t bad places to start. Although some companies claim their shoes reduce injury-risk, studies have shown there’s no evidence that a specific type of running shoe dramatically reduces injuries.
When choosing your shoes, go to a running specialty store and try on several pairs. Put them on and walk around the store and place the most importance on what feels best on your feet. Getting the right pair might require trial-and-error, but once you find something that works, it should help make running and walking more comfortable.
Consider every day that you move to victory.
Exercise is one of nature’s most effective medicines. It works for every patient in every country who can do it safely, no matter their age. And running and walking are among the most accessible forms, given that you don’t need much equipment. Studies suggest that regular walking and running prevents depression, diabetes, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, running increases life span (lived years) and health span (health during lived years).
As we head into peak running season, the true victory is getting out and moving every day. If you are just walking around the block, savor the fresh air and joy of movement. If you’re training for a marathon, I look forward to seeing you on the starting line.
Dr. Jordan Metzl is a physician at Hospital for Special Surgery and the author of “Running Strong.”