Julia Hawkins was 101 when she set a world record for the 100 meter dash, only a year after she started running. And she's not alone. Each year hundreds of men and women are taking to running later in life. And many of them are competing in marathons. Over half of the people competing in the New York Marathon are over 40. And their running times are getting better.
As a Seattle podiatrist who sees many patients with Type II diabetes I'm thrilled to see so much enthusiasm for exercise in older adults.
Running can help you prevent and manage many chronic illnesses, make you sharper, and give you a greater sense of wellbeing. Although running isn't for everyone and you should certainly see your doctor before giving it a try, it can be a tremendous way to live well into your later years.
Runners over 50 suffer from the same kind of foot problems as younger people including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and ankle sprains. One difference is older adults take longer to recover from these injuries than their younger counterparts.
Recommendations for older runners include:
Supplement running with strength and flexibility exercises. Check out the book by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's workout coach for some exercises you can do in the gym or at home.
Always warm-up before your run. Although warm-ups are important for all runners, they are a must for older runners. I recommend dynamic warm-ups for runners.
Purchase appropriate running shoes. Check out my previous blog "How to Buy the Best Running Shoes".
Buy running shoes with more cushioning if you've lost fat from the pads of your feet, a common problem as we age.
Wear inserts or get custom orthotics made by a podiatrist particularly if you have flat feet or another biomechanical problem.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help with age-related arthritis pain in the feet, knees, and hips.
Take Vitamin D and eat calcium rich foods to prevent stress fractures. As we age we lose bone mass and are more prone to bone-related health problems.
Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.
For more information about heel pain in runners download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners". In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly. You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!