Q: I started running three months ago but find I’m always sore, in my shins, knee and sometimes hamstring. – Lisa T.
A: You are experiencing typical symptoms for a beginner – since you do not mention previous injury from another sport, I assume you are running after a long period of inactivity. There are two major areas of concern when starting from scratch.
The first and most difficult to change in the short term is weight loss, as this places a greater load on your joints, ligaments, bones, muscles and tendons. Do not stop running because of this, but understand you will need to build up slowly and employ cross training such as cycling, rowing, swimming or some other form of low-impact training to aid in improved cardiovascular function as well as increased kilojoule burn and therefore faster weight loss.
It is also important to ensure you are not undoing all your hard work with poor eating habits.
Secondly, due to the inactivity your body will have stopped functioning as it was designed to, and the same over-loaded tendons, joints and muscles will not be fully prepared. This will be coupled with the fact that some imbalances will have crept in if you spend a lot of time at a desk. The pains you are feeling in your knees and shins in particular will be directly related to this.
I encourage you to keep running, but in the short term you need to see a fitness professional to help you identify what these flexibility and strength imbalances are so you can correct them by doing the appropriate strengthening and flexibility exercises.
Lindsey Parry is a qualified biokineticist, Two Oceans silver medallist and 2:52 marathoner.