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If you're a regular runner, injury can, unfortunately, come with the territory. While running gives you so many health benefits -- like keeping your cardiovascular health and body in shape -- the impact of the activity can take a toll on your muscles, bones, and joints.

Focus on these ways to prevent 10 common running injuries while improving your bone and joint care.

1. How to Prevent Runner's Knee

Officially known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS, this injury makes up a huge portion of running problems. PFPS includes cartilage irritation within the kneecap's underside. Officially known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS, this injury makes up a huge portion of running problems. PFPS includes cartilage irritation within the kneecap's underside.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Cut down run length
  • Add more rest days
  • Stop running if knee pain starts
  • Try uphill running, as downhill places increase impact and load on knees
  • Strengthen hip, quad and glute muscles
  • Stretch hip flexors
  • Reduce length of stride and land with slightly bent knee

2. How to Prevent Achilles Tendinitis

Running can stress the Achilles tendon and, over time, can result in Achilles tendinitis. This happens when the tendon tightens and experiences irritation and inflammation.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Focus on strengthening and stretching calves, but avoid forceful stretching
  • Minimize use of heels and flip-flops
  • Be careful about increasing training too hard and too fast
  • Stop and rest for days if you experience a minor strain to prevent it worsening into Achilles tendinitis

3. How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

This foot injury involves inflammation in the foot’s tendons and ligaments, and it can even create small tears in these areas. If you have this, you would likely experience a dull ache on the heel bottom or arch. The pain tends to be at its worst when you first wake up each day.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Avoid adding extra miles to your run too quickly
  • Stretch hip flexors and strengthen core muscles
  • Get customized, properly fitting running sneakers
  • Consult physician about the use of orthotics
  • Perform ankle rolls and massages/stretches to the plantar fascia

4. How to Prevent Shin Splints

You might not experience this injury as a seasoned runner, although it could happen if you take some time off. Also, it’s common for newcomers. Shin splints, officially known as medial tibial stress syndrome, tends to happen when you increase running volume quickly. It gives you aches around your shins, which is coming from small tears in the muscles there.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Use the correct running shoes for your feet, including custom ones to fit flat feet or high arches
  • Replace your shoes when they’re worn
  • Slow down your running at the first sign of shin pain
  • Slowly add miles to your running workout to work up to higher mileage

5. How to Prevent Tight Hamstring

Issues with the hamstrings can cause wider damage and injuries when you run. One such problem that occurs here is a hamstring strain, which is common to running. When you have a hamstring strain, your muscle or muscles are overextended or have a small tear.  Additionally, tight hamstrings have been associated with low back pain.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Strengthen the hamstrings and surrounding muscles, such as the hip abductors and glutes
  • Stretch the hamstrings but avoid overstretching, and improve lower body flexibility
  • Perform a dynamic warm-up before running
  • Consider trying compression tights and/or deep-tissue massage

6. How to Prevent Stress Fracture

A stress fracture is one of the worst running injuries you can experience. It tends to happen to the feet, heels or shins for runners, and it comes from continuous stress and strain to bone over time.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Avoid overtraining and give bones resting time
  • Gradually increase your running intensity, mileage, and frequency
  • Focus on strength training and nutrition to create better bone density

7. How to Prevent Ankle Sprains

A sprain can happen to your ankle if you roll, twist or turn the foot when you’re running. A sprain is a partial or full tear in a ligament. A tear creates inflammation with tender pain, especially when you’re on the foot.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Focus on balance exercises
  • Work on boosting ankle strength
  • Improve flexibility and range of motion in the ankle
  • Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes with ankle support

8. How to Prevent Muscle Strains

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned runner, you can experience muscle strains. These come with a minimal tear or an overextended muscle and bring symptoms of pain and stiffness.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Focus on improving flexibility and range of motion
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Warm up well before running with a dynamic routine for 15 to 20 minutes

9. How to Prevent Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

This is a fairly common running injury that gives you irritation of the iliotibial band, or IT band, on the exterior of the thigh. It happens when the IT band rubs against the femur every time the knee flexes and extends.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Gradually increase your mileage over time
  • Strengthen hip abductors
  • Rest and reduce mileage if you experience pain
  • Minimize running on hills
  • Shorten your running stride to put the landing weight on the midfoot or heel front

10. How to Prevent Patellar Tendinitis

You may have heard this injury called “Jumper's knee.” It’s characterized by inflammation and pain from the patellar tendon that goes from the kneecap to the tibia. The problem happens because of small tears from running stress.

Tips to Prevent a Flare-Up:

  • Regularly stretch the calves and hamstrings
  • Strengthen the hamstrings, quads, and calves
  • Gradually add more mileage to runs

Take these tips into consideration the next time you’re on a run.  Along with these preventive measures, focus on supporting your bone and joint care with a healthy diet and supplements. Getting enough of certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D and zinc, can help promote your bone and joint health to reduce the risk of injury.

 

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