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Fitness That Fits You
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Running

Running is a great aerobic exercise. It improves your heart and lung health, helps control weight, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones. A regular running routine compresses and releases the cartilage in your knees, helping circulate synovial fluid that brings oxygen and nourishes your joints, and removes inflammatory waste products. Because running is a high-impact sport, some doctors do not recommend it for those who have arthritis in the weight-bearing joints of the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet or for those who have had knee or hip surgery. However, there are many people with arthritis who tolerate moderate running, particularly if you are impacted primarily in your upper-body joints. The Arthritis Resource Finder can help you locate a community resource or an Arthritis Foundation event in your area. 

Modifications

Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following.

  • A shorter stride reduces the load on your weight-bearing joints.
  • Run on softer surfaces (trails, paths and even a treadmill) to reduce joint impact.
  • Make adjustments to your running schedule, form or the running surface as needed to prevent joint pain.

Tips

  • Proper running form is important to put less stress on your joints and decrease the risk of injury.
  • Proper footwear is important. Minimalist shoes, toe shoes and barefoot running may not be tolerated.

Progression

  • If you have never been a runner, begin by walking or doing a lower-impact exercise such as biking, swimming or gliding on an elliptical trainer for your cardio fitness.
  • When you run, start slowly and increase your activity level gradually over time.

This is general running information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.