Tips from the doctor
Stramilano provides you with expert advice and tips to ensure that your exercise regime can offer invaluable support for your health. Sport coaches and doctors will recommend great ways for you to get into better physical shape as you run.
Why do we run?
Runners are an increasingly common sight in our streets and parks. Among them are real professionals in the field who love to run anywhere and everywhere. Nobody ever had to talk them into running: they see it as the most natural activity for human beings and the ease with which they speed across tracks and roads reveals ancestral abilities, reminding us that we too were once fast-moving predators.
Then there are the amateur enthusiasts who are devoted to running and slip their trainers on whenever they have the chance to take a break from their working lives. They tend to have been introduced to running by friends and then gradually become more and more passionate about it. The love for running is quite infectious. Finally, a large number of people see running as an important way to get back in shape and stay healthy. They have never been keen about running and they have always been naturally wary of it, but they have ended up doing it anyway (sometimes reluctantly) for health reasons, perhaps on the recommendation of a doctor or following advice from a healthcare worker or fitness coach, or simply because they realize that they are overweight or their lifestyle is too sedentary.
Why do so many people love to run?
Because runners of all standards find that the demands of running are always comfortably outweighed by the numerous mental, social and health benefits. No matter why people decide to run, the advantages can be divided into three main categories. The first category covers the countless health-related benefits, which range from weight loss and enhanced lean mass to a more efficient circulatory system and a reduction in the effects of ageing. Running can also play a big part in preventing a number of conditions, especially heart and metabolism problems. Furthermore, it can aid recovery of the functioning of the cardiopulmonary system after serious health problems involving myocardial infarctions. The second category of benefits for runners concerns mental health. It has now been widely proven that running relieves the symptoms of depression, anxiety and many other mental and emotional conditions. In addition, it has been demonstrated that running allays the countless negative effects of stress. This is why many people see running as an important opportunity to relax. It can create a sort of “parallel mental world” where the body and the mind can enjoy a workout. It gives runners the chance to have time to themselves, test their limits and get to know themselves better through physical exertion. Finally, there are the “social” benefits of running, because it has become a mass phenomenon and therefore a community has formed. It is a community with rules and a positive code of social conduct that revolves around a health-based culture and the desire to get to know each other better and share our knowledge and experience. Running is not an elite sport, so it is a great way to meet people. After all, you do not need any large equipment, special materials or hard-to-acquire technical skills.
Running is the most democratic of all the sports.
Every year, competitive athletes are legally required to have a fitness assessment so that they can be awarded the medical certificates that they need to take part in races. In the Italian legal system, athletes without medical certificates are not allowed to take part in sports events. The club president would face criminal charges for any harm to a non-certified athlete taking part in an event. This makes it clear just how important medical assessments are in the eyes of the law, and quite justifiably too!
Fitness assessments for competitive sport are peculiar times in the lives of athletes. The physical check-ups are used to identify any conditions of which even the athletes themselves may be unaware and prevent any harm to their health during future activity. In sports medicine, fitness assessments bring the professional and social activities of the examining doctors into contact with the sporting activities of the competitive athletes. It is often the only time when the medical world comes together with the sporting environment in the strictest sense of the term. Therefore, a check-up with a sports physician should be seen as more than just a test to get through as quickly as possible. It is a chance for athletes to take a break and tell physicians all about the health issues that they have had in the past year. Sports physicians must be prepared to clear up any questions about the connections between health problems and competitive sporting activities. They must also be able to provide information and recommendations based on the latest scientific research into training, sporting ailments and dietary supplements.
There are lots of sports medicine centres in Lombardy, some of which are superbly equipped to cater to all of the needs of competitive and non-competitive athletes with an all-round approach. The great thing about these centres for runners is that any additional tests deemed necessary to support and focus the sports physician’s diagnosis can quickly be carried out alongside a simple fitness assessment. In order to serve athletes properly, a sports medicine centre must also have specialists in their own departments to deal with the many problems caused by modern training and accurately assess the shape of the athletes. As scientific understanding of sport improves, sports medicine staff must be able to offer a satisfactory response to requests from athletes that go beyond the realm of “health” in the strictest sense of the word. For example, many centres perform stress tests on treadmills or bicycle ergometers to assess athletes’ aerobic conditions. This provides crucial understanding of their cardiovascular potential and makes it possible to plan or improve specific running training programmes. In other centres it is also possible to do specific biomechanical assessments for running or simply for walking in order to highlight any movement issues which may lead to problems in the muscles, tendons or joints if they are not rectified. Athletes who need to improve their weight management can ask for advice in many sports medicine centres. The experts will assess their normal diets and optimize them, taking into account the calorie intake required by their training programmes and the ideal body mass and proportion between fat mass and lean mass for each athlete. Sports medicine centres are continually evolving, not only when dealing with the main issues associated purely with fitness certification for competitive and non-competitive athletes, but also by providing an increasingly comprehensive specialist service to runners. Runners need to burn off energy without burning themselves out. Sports physicians must ensure that they go about this with the best possible times and methods.