Expert answers to your health and wellness questions
Note from Jay and Heidi: Always see your physician prior to beginning a new exercise routine.
Question: I’m an avid runner and I’ve had sore knees recently. I was told that running on a treadmill or on grass might help with the pain. Is this true?
Jay’s answer: This is the prevailing theory, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Many people think that running on a slightly softer surface will help with knee pain and that seems to make sense. It may help a little and won’t hurt to try, but it’s the force of your overall body mass on your joints that is causing the problem, so running on a treadmill vs. pavement really doesn’t matter when it comes to the knee joint as much as it does with foot issues where impact forces are of greater concern.
Your best bet would be to change up your modes of exercise and try an elliptical cross-trainer. The motion of the foot on a good commercial cross-trainer is similar to that of running and it also includes the same upper body motion as running.
However, it is not just less impact, it is completely NON-impact. The break to cross-training will give your knees some much-needed rest and then hopefully you can continue to run with little to no pain soon enough.
Of course, adding ice after workouts and massage is worth a try as well.
Remember, if the pain gets too severe and persists, you may want to take some time off and/or go see a sports physician and get referred to physical therapy to see if the pain is stemming from a more serious issue or even a correctable muscle deficiency.
Question: Is it worth starting an exercise program right now when the holidays are getting close?
Heidi’s answer: Let me think about it … YES! If there were ever a great time to start exercising, it’s now. You can make some serious progress in the seven weeks between now and Thanksgiving and then double down from then until New Year’s!
If you go into the holidays in better shape, you will be less apt to overindulge! On top of that, your metabolism will be higher so you can absorb a few extra calories. And with the exercise habit already established, you can burn off some of the holiday stress and resulting cortisol, which is partly responsible for the excess storage of fat. So start today.
If you want to get in the best shape possible by the end of the year, hire a trainer to design your program.
Working smarter sometimes saves some of the working harder!
Question: I have exercised three days a week for almost 20 years. I am finding that arthritic pain is starting to limit my activity level. Did the exercise wear me out? Should I keep trying?
Jay’s answer: If you hadn’t exercised all those years, you likely would have been limited by arthritis pain long ago. And if you stop now, your arthritic pain likely will get even worse. The fact is, exercise is one of the best ways to manage arthritis. So keep on moving!
Hopefully you are convinced that you need to keep moving. Daily as opposed to semi-regular is better when it comes to arthritis. Also, you may need to make modifications as far as what type of exercise is right for you as you deal with the arthritis. In general, low-impact activity is best. See a fitness professional with experience with helping folks with arthritis to get your exercise dialed in and working for you!
Jay Bryan is an exercise physiologist and Heidi Bryan is a certified personal trainer. To ask Jay or Heidi a question, e-mail them at email@example.com.
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