Ask any consistent runner about the benefits / joy of running and he or she will probably have plenty to share. And why not? Running is easily one of the most affordable, fuss-free, and popular ways to get in shape. However, it exerts a greater physical impact on your body compared to low-impact sports like swimming and cycling.

Dr Pauline Leong, Head for the Department of Physiotherapy at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, warns that by the time joggers realise that excessive running is doing them more harm than good to their bodies, they would have already sustained injuries that require costly and painful treatments.

The incidence of running related injury is between 19-85 per cent and this rate has not decreased appreciably in the last 30 years.

When running injuries worsen, so will recovery time​​

“Often, runners think the pain – especially to their j​​oints – is part of the rigour of the sport,” says Dr Pauline Leong. “What they don’t realise is that as the injury worsens, so do their chances of recovery through simple rehabilitation.”

Some may even take on a new challenge like aiming to complete a full marathon without considering the amount of time needed to train properly. Studies have shown that behaviours such as time urgency, ambitiousness, training impulse and competitiveness has been associated with an increased risk in injury. Additionally, people with unresolved previous injuries (unrelated to running) sustained more injuries.

Injuries are just the tip of the iceberg. There have been well-publicised cases of otherwise healthy joggers having a sudden heart attack while pounding the pavement. Some have even resulted in death.

"Still, the benefits of running far outweigh its health hazards," adds Dr Pauline Leong. "It’s about knowing the health risks that are associated with running, and how to mitigate them. More importantly, it’s about knowing yourself and being realistic about your run targets.”

See the next page for tips on preventing r​unning hazards: joint problems and muscular and bone injuries.​​​

Ref: P16

Check out our other articles on running:

Health Benefits of Running

Tips to Prevent Cramps During Running

Home Remedies for Common Running Injuries

6 Ways to Relieve Muscle Pain After Exercising

Tips to Train for Your First Marathon