Medical Need to Know
GP Juliet McGrattan answers more of your health questions
Out of puff
I’ve recently given up smoking and have taken up running. At the moment, it’s a struggle to get my breath when I run. Will this improve in time now that I’ve cut out the cigarettes?
Congratulations on stopping smoking! You should notice some improvement in your breathing within a month, but you need to be patient, as it will take several months for your lung function to really benefit. There are a lot of changes going on in your airways as they adjust to their new smoke-free environment. For the time being, start slowly, build up gradually and feel proud.
Twist and ouch!
I have weak ankles and often turn them when I’m running. They then swell up and I can’t run for a few days. What can I do to resolve the problem?
It sounds like you have a longstanding weakness that needs addressing. Sometimes the problems are from the knees, hips or pelvis and not the ankles themselves. I recommend you see a physio to get a full assessment and a personalised exercise plan. It might mean reducing or stopping your running in the short term, but injury-free running in the longer term.
I sometimes get tingling pains in just one toe when I run. What’s likely to be causing it? I only get it in one toe on one foot.
Tingling in a single toe when you’re running is almost certainly compression of a nerve. It may be as simple as your sock or shoe being too tight. Consider going up half a size in your trainers or changing the lacing pattern. If it doesn’t settle down or you get tingling in other toes, especially on the other foot, then see your GP.
I’ve been on tablets for mild depression and I’d like to stop taking them. I’m doing more running – will this help to improve my mood?
Running is great for mild depression, as it causes the release of your body’s own mood-lifting chemicals. Enjoying the outdoors, and reaching targets and challenges will boost your self-esteem and motivation, too. However, don’t stop your tablets without seeing your GP. You often need to continue a course of tablets for several months after you feel better. Also, some antidepressants need to be reduced and stopped gradually. There’s no reason why you can’t run while still on your medication and then make an appointment to speak to your GP about the possibility of stopping them.