Don’t Let Running Myths Keep You on the Couch

Running can be a great way to boost cardiovascular fitness and help maintain a healthy weight. But often times, the myths about hitting the pavement can hold us back from trying to start a running program. Kim Gladden, M.D., comments.

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CLEVELAND – Running can be a great way to boost cardiovascular fitness and help maintain a healthy weight. But often times, the myths about hitting the pavement can hold us back from trying to start a running program.

Kim Gladden, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic often hears people say they are afraid to run because it’s ‘bad’ for their knees or are afraid that it’s going to cause arthritis.

“While you certainly can develop arthritis over time, it’s not necessarily the running that’s going to be the thing that makes you develop arthritis,” said Dr. Gladden.

A recent study actually found that running may help protect against inflammation and arthritis in our knees down the road.

Dr. Gladden said another common running myth is that a person has to be in top physical shape to be a runner. She said that as long as a person’s doctor has cleared them for cardiovascular exercise, they can start slow and build their way up to their desired fitness level.

For those who can walk three miles without a problem, Dr. Gladden recommends alternating the walk with jog intervals that each last about two to three minutes. This can be slowly increased over time.

She said even for those who do other sports or activities, it’s important to remember that running uses different muscles, so it’s best to do a minimal amount first and then add no more than ten percent, in distance or time, for every three to four workout sessions.

To keep up a running routine, Dr. Gladden said it’s important to get enough rest to prevent injury.

“Whenever we exercise, your body is sustaining ‘minute’ injury to the muscles, that then repairs very quickly and that’s how we gain strength and are able to keep increasing our activity level,” said Dr. Gladden. “So, you do want to allow those periods of rest so your body can accommodate to the exercise it’s just done and then get a new ‘set point’ so that you can keep on building from there.”

Dr. Gladden said sharp pains or painful ‘pops’ are never good and can be a sign of an acute injury. Sustained pain with each foot strike is also a sign to stop.  Likewise, a nagging pain that keeps getting worse over time might signal that it’s time to get evaluated by a doctor.

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