You don't need to run a marathon to be healthy — literally. In fact, research is showing that shorter, more intense running may be just as good for overall fitness training than longer, less intense running. The intriguing part is that shorter, intense running could avoid injuries related to overuse of your joints caused by running longer distances. "Overuse injuries and changes in running mechanics may be impacted by volume of training—distance and time—more so than intensity of exercise," researchers said. The research comes from a study involving 12 long distance runners who were asked to run at full capacity for as long as they could (typically about 18 minutes). The outcome was a bit of a surprise, as the researchers intended to measure changes in joint kinematics and shock absorption as the runners fatigued — but there were no changes! More research is needed to figure out exactly WHEN changes begin to occur that would lead to overuse-type injuries. In the meantime, another study is showing that the way you run also has an impact (or less of an impact in this case) on joint health; specifically, barefoot running was examined to determine if it made a difference in knee injuries. Barefoot running, or running with those funny looking "toe" shoes, alters the way you run. Instead of striking the ground with your heel first as you would when wearing regular running shoes, barefoot running causes you to run on the ball of your foot instead. And it does make a difference! In fact, it reduces and may even completely eliminate the usual stress that heel-first running puts on your knees, "reducing knee joint loads and injuries," the study says. Of course, this style of running causes other parts of the body to work harder, namely the ankles. Still, if you're one of the millions of people with knee pain, but you still love running, you may want to consider barefoot running (and may we suggest barefoot running on the beach for an added "fun" factor). Isn't it amazing what simple changes can do? Change to a shorter, more intense run and you'll get the same benefits as a long run. Change to barefoot running and you'll reduce stress on your knees. Change your diet and add a natural joint supplement and you could actually heal your joints for good. ... and imagine the benefits if you did all three!
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