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Can I continue to run with diabetes?

August 27, 2019

By JANET HAMILTON, MA, RCEP, CSCS

Gary asks -- "I am a 65 year old male who has been running a mile on a treadmill about 2 times a week. I have diabetes and have developed foot problems due to my disease. Is there a way for me to keep practicing and increase my distance without injury? Thanks! "


Coach Janet responds - This seems like an easy question but with diabetes it can be a little tricky.  Lots of people with diabetes are able to run – both those with Type 1 as well as those with Type 2. Those with type 1 (insulin dependent diabetes) may need help with adjusting their long and short acting insulin injections to insure that they maintain adequate blood sugar during exercise.  If you have "adult onset" Type 2 diabetes and you are able to maintain your blood glucose with oral medications, you may be fine to gradually increase your distance over time.  However if your "foot problems" include loss of sensation in your feet (commonly called diabetic neuropathy) you might want to talk to your doctor or endocrinologist first to see if they are anticipating the condition will improve as you get better control of your blood sugar.  At the very least it will be important to follow a gradual progression of distance, and extremely important to do regular inspections of your feet to look for lesions or blisters.  Improving the flexibility in your calves and hamstrings may also reduce some of the friction loads on your feet that can be caused when tight muscles make your foot pronate longer or further than is ideal.  Use good quality running shoes and make sure you are fitted properly for them -- plenty of room for your foot to expand as you run.    If you'd like help with this, let me know!  Best regards and good luck in your progression.  If the doc clears you - take it nice and slow.   Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP ,CSCS, USATF-level 1 coach, RRCA certified