Ultra-marathons might have ultra-side-effects and running-injuries to your knees and your entire body!
No person in the world would say that physical activities are bad for your overall health. Especially running, where every muscle in your body is in full action. We have covered the benefits of running many times before through our blog posts. Professional athletes and casual weekend runners describe feeling energized and being in great form as top benefits from running. But what happens when people start pushing themselves beyond their running limits, and start running the ultra-marathons (ones that exceed the regular marathon distance of 26.219 mi)?
Over-running can exhaust your body, and can lead to severe running injuries to your knees or ankles, where the pressure is highest. Most runners are more familiar with the likelihood of incurring running knee injuries such as meniscus tears, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and ACL tears, than they are with some of the other side-effects of running the long distance races.
A new research study has been conducted, presenting the health effects and potential risks of over-exercising your body and your heart. Researchers at Stanford University and at UCDavis (University of California), joined their minds and efforts in finding out the side-effects of these ultra-marathons among a group of 1,200 marathon runners.
The Risks and The Rewards:
The overall conclusion is that compared with the general population, ultra-marathon runners appear healthier and report fewer missed work or school days due to illness or running injuries. But, ultra-marathon runners also have a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies than the general population, which according to the results, occurs on a concerning level and should be recognized and treated by medical professionals.
Furthermore, ultra-marathon runners, compared with shorter distance runners, have a similar annual incidence of exercise-related injuries or running injuries, but they also have a higher proportion of stress fractures involving the foot. The number of these foot running injuries is especially high among the younger and less experienced ultra-marathoners.
Besides these marathon side-effects, over 50% of the examined runners also said they had experienced a running-related injury in the past year, severe enough to keep them from training for at least a few days, about the same percentage as often is reported by recreational runners. The most common site of running injuries for ultra-marathoners is the knee, as is also the case for shorter distance runners.
After all of these results, the question that is bothering the ultra-marathon lovers is: Should I stop with my ultra-marathon running or not?
According to Dr. Armin Tehrany, orthopedic surgeon at Manhattan Orthopedic Care, you should continue with everything that your body finds comfortable doing.
“Everything done in moderation is good. So is the running. You should always consult your doctor and listen to your body for everything that you start feeling.” says Dr. Tehrany.
Most running injuries are affecting the knees and ankles
Dr. Armin Tehrany is more concerned about the injuries that can occur to all types of runners, not just the ultra-marathoners, affecting the knees and the ankles.
“Running long distances has many benefits that overall outweigh the potential risks as the research article points out. What the article fails to mention is the significant number of meniscus, articulate cartilage, and ACL tears that can also occur. These injuries may often require arthroscopic knee surgery, depending on the severity of damage.” Dr. Tehrany said.
As the article states: “The most common site of self-reported injury among the present study population was the knee, which accounted for 15% of the injuries. The knee has been shown to be the most vulnerable site for injury in prior reports of distance runners. Our previous study also showed the knee to be the most common site of injury among 161-km ultra-marathoners, accounting for 20% of all injuries.”
The number of these type of injuries is concerning, especially if we take into consideration that some of these injuries can be followed by a long recovery process.
“In order to decrease the risk of running injuries to the knees or ankles, runners should set goals that are easier to reach and slowly take progress into taking those goals to higher levels. Also, runners should never stress their body by pushing themselves outside their comfort level. Just follow your inner energy, stay focused on what your body can do and eventually you will be first on the finishing line” concludes Dr. Tehrany.