Should you see a Doctor?
Ideally, everyone who takes up running should check with a doctor that they are not going to put themselves in danger. But for many runners this is unnecessary. There are some guidelines below about whether you need to see a doctor.
In addition to seeing a doctor, you should also aim to see a sports physiotherapist before beginning a running programme. A physio can help to identify weaknesses in your running style which could, if you run regularly, eventually lead to an injury. A physio can give you simple specific exercises to rebalance your posture and running style, or inserts in your running shoes ("orthoses "). Seeing a physio early on may prevent months of injury in the future.
Guidelines for when you need to see a doctor before starting running
The US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has formulated the following guidelines. According to these guidelines, anyone who conforms to one or more of the eight criteria below should consult a doctor before beginning an exercise programme:
- you are over age 60 and not accustomed to vigorous exercise;
- you have a family history of premature coronary heart disease (under 55 years of age);
- you frequently have pains or pressure in the left or mid chest area, left neck, shoulder or arm (as distinct from the "stitch") during or immediately after exercise;
- you often feel faint or have spells of severe dizziness, or you experience extreme breathlessness after mild exertion;
- your doctor has said that your blood pressure is too high and is not under control, or you do not know that it is normal;
- your doctor has said that you have heart trouble, that you have a heart murmur, or that you have had a heart attack;
- your doctor has said that you have bone or joint problems, such as arthritis;
- you have a medical condition that might need special attention in an exercise program (for example, insulin dependent diabetes).
Use your common sense; if you are in doubt, go to your doctor.