Ideas To Substitute An Alcoholic’s High With A Runner’s High

(Last Updated On: August 18, 2017)

We get it or we don’t, we still want it, all the time. And more of the same thing, time in and time out. The context of the article at this point in time is something that we are all born to do, something that Forrest Gump did all through the 4 hour movie, something that never can and never will fall out of the tow line when it concerns your health; running. When we are in luck, we tap into what is known as the ‘runner’s high’ and all of a sudden, the run feels extremely easy and exhilarating at the same time. But it is certainly difficult to suddenly come into the fortune that a ‘runner’s high’ is.

Recent research states that running and also (quite surprisingly) the ability to get the ‘high’ from it seems to be hard-wired within all of us. This stems from the fact that years ago, survival depended on running and chasing down things to eat. And the very innate urge to live and multiply motivated our ancestors to run all the distances. Let’s talk basics; no matter where we decide to run a marathon, the thing that precedes every other aspect of it is the preparation. If you are only thinking about the grueling training days or even months, you are not dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts. You will have to factor in the big day as well, the grand finale; and for that, you will have to pull every trick out of a big fat trick book. Runners say that all the blood and sweat aside, the one thing that keeps them going, every single day, is the ‘runner’s high’ and they swear by it.

So what exactly is a ‘runner’s high’?

The much talked about ‘high’ is a feeling of invincibility that long distance runners and athletes often report to have experienced, a feeling of tremendous euphoria and reduced pain or discomfort that comes after having logged a certain amount of distance. On the very same note, don’t expect the ‘runner’s high’ to hit you 2 minutes into your jog.

The science

A psychological well-being that’s associated with logging long distances such as a marathon is ‘runner’s high’ simplified. While the theory that long distance running leads to the secretion of endorphins in your system and thus, the good feeling is viable, it still has room for debate. There’s no denying the entire circulation of endorphins that happens within the system; however, whether that necessarily and directly impacts your immediate psychological well-being and vigor has been called into debate. This is because in spite of the circulation of endorphins having been chemically blocked, athletes still reported that high we are talking about here.

Now with the theory of endorphins notwithstanding, researchers have been trying to understand the impact other neurotransmitters could have on an athlete’s psychological rev-up while running long distances; the reason why spike in the levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine has been thought upon as the possible cause of the ‘high’. Also, running longer miles elevates body temperature, another element that has recently come into the reckoning as a possible reason for the athletes feeling a surge in their emotions while sweating it out.

While a ‘runner’s high’ is more short term, adhering to a regular exercise regimen, in general, can surely positively impact one’s physical as well as psychological well-being.

There is a ‘swimmer’s high’ as well?

There is still room for discussion on whether this ‘high’ is only restricted to long distance runners. There are so many people who can freak out at the thought of having to run 25 kilometers in order to experience the euphoria this article has been talking about. Does that mean that there’s no way you can feel the ‘runner’s high’ if you’re not a regular hardened runner? Research states that it isn’t exactly true. The idea here is to perform repetitive rhythmic exercises such as swimming, rowing, cycling and the likes. These exercises, which progress in a repetitive rhythmic loop, induce the same effect in an individual, giving him/her the mood rush that is the subject of the discussion.

So how do you get this almost aspirational high?

Running contrary to belief as well as claims by certain websites, you do not need to push yourself all that hard. You can stick to the standards that you’ve set and continue with any of the aforementioned exercise circuits for 30 minutes (or a tad more if you feel like you can) and you could experience such bursts of renewed vigor and well-being.

And then…

There is obviously the ‘high’ of completing the run. There aren’t many feelings that can match up to the moment when you cross the finish line of the marathon that you had been training out of your skin and bones for.

As much as the psychological well-being that running long miles entails, you cannot completely eliminate the risks of injuries. Running injuries could be a result of pushing the limits out of bounds or maintaining a wrong posture through the course of the entire run. The way you move your body while running is a major determinant of injuries. Few common injuries have been listed below:

  1. Runner’s Knee: Probable reason for this type of injury is the knee cap falling out of alignment or wearing off of the knee cap cartilage.
  2. Stress Fracture: Often affecting the feet and shin, this happens when a bone cracks, thus causing pain. Again, pushing yourself without knowing your endurance level can cause this sort of an injury.
  3. Shin Splint: Pretty much self-explanatory, a shin splint affects the insides of your lower leg, with the pain running along the tibia (shin bone). This is generally an adverse effect of you tweaking your running schedule, too much and too fast (like running faster than usual or suddenly jumping the number of days you run).
  4. Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendon that joins the back of the heel to the calf (Achilles tendon) is known as Achilles Tendinitis.

Ankle sprain and muscle pull are the other types of injuries one would generally associate with running.

How can physiotherapy help you recover from injuries you sustained while running?

Any pain that persists and becomes the cause of your discomfort for one entire night should be medically attended to. Changing strides while running will only compensate for the problem; however, compensating wouldn’t fix the issue and could aggravate the situation. Physiotherapy or physical therapy works by healing and building the muscle groups surrounding the injury while stretching and massaging the area that has been injured. In extreme circumstances, physiotherapy can help before you try fixing it up with the help of a surgery, something that’s bound for a longer and harrowing downtime.

A physiotherapist tackles such injuries by suggesting strengthening and stretching exercises using resistance bands, stability balls and exercises that involve body weight. Remember, that every runner and hence, the injuries, are different from each other. So, one shouldn’t doubt the importance of referring to a qualified physiotherapist for complete and quick recovery.

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Dr. Hirna Bhatt holds a Master degree in Physiotherapy from Sheffield Hallam University U.K and a Master degree in Acupuncture from Nagpur University. She is specialized in musculoskeletal conditions and have over 3 years of experience in treating patients. Besides working as a therapist, she has keen interest in painting and craft work. She quotes, “Do what makes you happy, success comes in that happiness.”


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