Running Myths Busted

GP Juliet McGrattan separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to common running misconceptions

Running will change your life for the better, you’ll live longer, feel healthier and happier and your only regret will be that you didn’t start sooner. We can reassure you about some common myths so you can leave your worries behind, get your trainers on and start feeling the benefits.

1. ‘Running will wreck my joints’

What’s the truth?

Quite the opposite, running will improve your joint health. Many studies have shown it will not damage your joints, give you or speed up arthritis. It’ll preserve bone strength guarding against osteoporosis. Make sure you do strength and conditioning exercises to keep the muscles around your joints strong, take plenty of rest days and don’t run when injured. Follow this advice and your joints will be preserved and not destroyed.

Related Article: Is Running Bad For Your Joints?

2. ‘Running will make my boobs sag’

What’s the truth?

Gravity, ageing and your genetics will make your breasts droop not running. Breasts move an average of 10cm in a figure of eight pattern when you run so it would seem important to wear a correctly fitted sports bra to minimise this movement and also reduce pain.

3. ‘Running will damage my heart’

What’s the truth?

Your heart will thank you for being a runner. It’s a large muscle, designed to be worked. As you get fitter the muscle gets more efficient and pumps blood more effectively with every beat. Risks for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are all reduced by running. A small study of endurance athletes in 2011 showed some changes to the right side of the heart after running a marathon. In 87 per cent the changes had resolved after a week. For the average runner there is nothing to be concerned about. Sudden death from cardiac arrest at marathons are tragic events but fortunately very rare, approximately one marathon runner in 259 000. These deaths are mostly from coronary heart disease or inherited heart conditions. See your GP if you have any concerns or a family history of heart problems and increase your training steadily.

4. ‘Running will make my face sag’

What’s the truth?

The elasticity of your skin is mainly determined by your genetics. In some people it bounces back to its original position more effectively than it does in others. Ageing and gravity will certainly make it sag but whether running does is debatable. Hats and sunscreen will protect you from the ageing effect of exposure to the elements. Looking fit, healthy and reaping all the other benefits of running will far outweigh any risk of facial sagging.

5. ‘Running will give me spots’

What’s the truth?

For some people there may be a little truth in this as sweat build up and sebum clogging pores make spots more likely. Careful skin cleansing soon after running can help. The majority however find their skin improves with regular exercise. Fresh air and increased blood flow gives you a healthy glow. Running regularly often leads you to better nutrition and your skin will thank you for making those healthy food choices.

6. ‘Running will stop my periods’

What’s the truth?

This is a risk if you exercise excessively and become very underweight. The news is good for everyone else as running can help ease menstrual cramps and improve the moodiness of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. Heavy periods are more common if you are overweight so weight lost by running might reduce the flow. If you suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and have few or no periods then normalising your weight through running might see the return of your periods.


Juliet McGrattan

Written by Juliet McGrattan | 19 articles | View profile

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