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Bone Health for Runners (Part 1)

Runners rarely thinks about bone health until unfortunately they have an accident or suffer from an injury and then their focus is on healing quickly so they can return to training. As we get older we are probably aware that bone health may deteriorate so perhaps it gets on our ‘health radar’ as we approach middle age.

Bone health is important at every age, we grow our bones as a child and teenager and we reach peak (BMD) bone mineral density by our late 20’s. Having good nutrition for bone health during those years is crucial. Most people are probably aware that BMD decreases with age from about 40 years old and especially during menopausal years and that may lead to Osteopenia and Osteoporosis. Often these conditions go undetected until someone has a fall/fracture.

A bone stress injury can halt a running season and may even lead to a longer term injury so looking after your bone health as a runner is important for health and a long enjoyable running life.

In this episode we are focusing on Bone Health for Runners and specifically we’ll be discussing:

1.    What makes healthy bones

2.    Causes of Bone Stress Fractures (BSI) in runners

3.    How nutrition and lifestyle factors can promote healthy bones (just going to give an overview and there will be a follow up episode where we’ll take a closer look at nutrition)


Find out why bone health is a personal issue for both Aileen and Karen


At what age do you feel that we have to start looking after bone health?


Why is looking after bone health important at every age stage in life.


Insights into the bone remodeling process and how we can support it whatever the condition of our bone structure is.


An overview of the key bone cells and what their role is in bone remodeling i.e. osteoclasts, osteoblasts, oestocytes and bone lining cells.


How the osteocytes act as sensors to direct bone remodeling at the point of stress load and why weight bearing exercise is important.


The female factors to consider in bone health and re modelling i.e. in childhood and teens, during pregnancy and breast feeding, peri and menopause and post menopause and older years.


Bone Stress Injuries – why runners are at risk and a look at the extrinsic and intrinsic factors leading to bone stress injuries.


Karen’s experience of a bone stress injury and what she did to promote healing and recovery.


Bone Stress Injuries in runners – are we at a high risk?


Looking at the extrinsic factors leading to bone stress injuries e.g. bio mechanical factors of the force you hit the ground, your running gait, your training – duration, mileage, frequency, speed and intensity. Also failure to schedule rest and recovery and considering muscle strength and endurance, training surfaces and terrain, and footwear.


Looking at the extrinsic factors leading to bone stress injuries e.g. genetics, eating to your energy requirements. It’s important to consume enough food and calories to meet your body requirements for the whole array of physiological processes as well as your exercise and training requirements. So that’s key for good health, but particularly thinking about the processes that include the growth and maturation of bone forming and having the correct nutrient building blocks for bone remodeling. Other factors include promoting good musculoskeletal health and being aware of medications which may affect/inhibit bone remodeling process.


An overview of nutrition and lifestyle factors relating to bone health.


Key nutrients involved in bone remodeling i.e. anti inflammatory nutrients such as essential fatty acids, ginger and turmeric, Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Collagen and trace minerals.


The importance of balancing female hormones and the role of digestion to support bio availability of nutrients.


Being aware of the negative dietary and environmental factors which may lead to poor bone health e.g. low nutrient status due to poor quality food, environmental toxins in food chain and in our daily environment, poor quality water, potential of medication inhibiting bone remodelling process


Key Take Aways from this Episode

  • Look after your bones throughout every life stage – think about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle factors
  • Eat a nutritionally dense food plan and don’t under eat – eat to your energy requirements for daily life and for your training and include bone building nutrients
  • Get niggles and pains investigated – don’t run through them as you may cause long lasting injury
  • Do a variety of exercises particularly weight bearing, pilates, yoga, barre – this will promote bone building in all parts of the skeleton
  • Nutritionally address inflammation, hormonal balance and digestion alongside key nutrients status of Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Collagen and trace minerals
  • Minimise exposure to negative dietary and lifestyle factors and environmental toxins e.g. smoking, alcohol, processed foods, stress,
  • Reduce potential toxins from food, water and environment
  • Get a medication review to check drugs are not inhibiting bone remodeling process

Related Episodes:

Bone Health For Runners (Part 2)

Nutrition for Running Injury

Endurance Running and Immune Health


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and

advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact

your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.

Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.

We are excited to be able to share our expertise, experience and short cuts with you. We hope you’ll join us again. If you’d like to know more about us and She Runs Eats Performs please check out our TRAILER.

If you’re ready to make learn more about how you may introduce easy nutrition into your running and training plan join our Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners Online Programme for short videos, recipes, downloads and LIVE training and Q&A.

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If you’d like help from Karen and Aileen to design a personalised sports nutrition plan for your running – please contact them at

Happy Running!

Aileen and Karen