However, should everyone run to build bone? Several Exercise for Better Bones clients have recently contacted me about why I recommend that people who are in the high fracture risk category should probably not run or jog and instead practice other weight bearing activities.
Running and Osteoporosis
Why shouldn’t someone at a high risk of fracture run or jog? I generally find that most of my clients have better alignment through their spine when they walk as compared to when they run. Also, you gain as much bone building benefit from a brisk walk as you do from a run. So my recommendation is to stick with a brisk walk.
A couple more things you should keep in mind when it comes to running or brisk walking:
- Your bones respond much more to a short brisk walk/run than a longer walk or run. Run as though you are trying to compete in a 5 K and not the marathon.
- Running, brisk walking and walking benefit your hip bones but do little for the spine. Supplement your exercise program with weight bearing activities that target the spine. Check out my Exercise for Better Bones program for a comprehensive set of exercises designed for your fracture risk and activity level.
Build Bone by Modifying Your Run
If you are still committed to your running to prevent osteoporosis consider some modifications and drills that can incorporated into your runs to make them more effective.
I encourage my clients who are at a low to moderate risk of fracture to modify their running style to add more impact to their jogs. In this video, there are three techniques that they can add to increase the impact (and the fun!):
- High knees.
Each of these has been used by athletes to improve running performance and can be adopted by everyday athletes to make their runs more effective when it comes to weight bearing and building bone. Weight bearing exercise recommendations are a major component of the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones program.
Prescription for Weight Bearing Exercise
Rather than hitting the trail for twenty minutes and doing a steady jog, I am suggesting that you mix in these drills. If you are a regular runner, consider this your new prescription for weight bearing exercise!
- High Knees – As shown in the video, you elevate your knees up as you perform several strides in a row. This drill increases the amount of impact as your feet hit the ground. I find that they also feel great when you do them.
- Skipping – Skipping adds a nice explosive component.
- Bounding – Bounding involves extending your stride and taking a leap forward. It can be done continuously (say, five to six steps in a row) or you can mix in a single bound every few minutes.
Balance and Running
You want to make sure that you have good balance before you take on these drills. Balance is a critical part of your exercise program.
Once you are comfortable that you can perform these weight bearing drills, I encourage you to mix them into your run.
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