Medical need to know

GP Juliet McGrattan answers your health questions

medical need to know

Make sure you don’t feel faint
“I have low blood pressure, so I faint quite easily. I want to start running – is this safe?”
Many women have low blood pressure. Problems can arise when you change posture, such as moving from lying to standing or after stooping forwards to tie a shoelace. At the start of a run, your blood pressure elevates a bit as your body adjusts to the increased demand – for you, this will not be a risky stage. You’re more likely to have problems when you stop running, which causes blood pressure to drop suddenly. This is particularly the case after a very long run. Warming down gradually, by slowing to a jog and then walking for a while, will help. If you do feel faint, lie down on the ground. You might feel silly, but it’s better than passing out. Watch out if you stop mid-run to tie your laces – lift back up to standing again slowly. Making sure you are well hydrated and have adequate salt in your diet will help, too.

Strengthen up
“My mum has just been diagnosed with osteoporosis at a fairly young age. Will running help to reduce my risk?”
Yes, definitely! Your bones reach their maximum strength, or density, in your mid-twenties. Weight-bearing exercise, such as running, is proven to maintain bone strength. Interestingly, we now know resistance exercise is important, too. Working with weights causes the tendons (which attach muscle to bone) to tug on the bone, which stimulates bone thickening. A mixture of the two types of exercise is ideal. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will help too, as will not smoking. You can’t change your genetics, but doing what you can to improve bone health will reduce your risk.

Hip, hip hooray
“I’ve heard women are more at risk of injury than men because of theshapeof ourhips. Is this true?”
There certainly is some truth in this. Inflammatory hip conditions and knee injuries are more common in women. The difference in the shape and positioning of the female pelvis and hips may be to blame. The female pelvis is wider, lighter, rounder and has a bigger cavity, designed to accommodate a growing baby. The narrower, heavier male pelvis may be better designed for running. However, everyone is at risk of injury, male or female. What’s most important is to look at your core strength, stability and posture. Working to strengthen and perfect these will reduce your injury risk.


  • If all the blood vessels in your body were laid out in a line, it would be close to 100,000 miles long!
  • Age is no barrier. The oldest woman to complete a marathon was 92-year-old Gladys Burrill. Anyone want to join me in a new record attempt in 50 years’ time?

There’s no evidence to suggest that lactic acid, which is produced after high-intensity exercise, is in any way harmful to a breastfed baby.

Written by Juliet McGrattan | 21 articles | View profile

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