Prevent knee injuries while running

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How to prevent knee injuries while running to avoid having painful runs

Running is a very popular sport, especially for losing fat and getting your body in shape. Itís easy to start, easy to learn, doesnít require any special equipment (except running shoes, of course) and can be done almost anywhere, from the treadmill to outside. Although itís a relatively easy sport to participate in, it does have its share of injuries. Knee injuries are quite common in the running community. This often casts a negative light onto the sport thatís really not fair, or accurate.

The problem lies not with the runnerís knee, but essentially with their running approach or routine that eventually causes those knee problems. They decide they want to ďgo a little fasterĒ and ramp up their running routines too quickly. This is where the problems begin.

What Is Runnerís Knee?

In a nutshell, itís an erosion of the cartilage in the knee. When the kneecap rubs against the base of the thighbone, there is irritation and a breakdown of cartilage there.

What causes this breakdown is overuse of the ligaments without proper rest. Joint misalignment and incorrect running habits are also culprits that can exacerbate the problem. Take heart though, because there are some things that you can do to avoid having those issues with knee injuries.

1. Proper Shoe Fit

Wearing worn or ill-fitting shoes is the number one cause of knee injuries. Without support, your foot is coming into immediate contact with the running surface, sending up to 5 times your body weight pulsating through your legs and joints. Proper foot support is essential, whether your foot is wide, narrow or a mixture. Go to a running store to have your feet properly sized. They can also assess your running gait and determine where your feet strike so that youíre given the correct shoes. They may also suggest running shoe inserts or insoles for you, depending on your assessment.

2. Stretch

Stretching is grossly underestimated in the life of a runner. Itís important to do a warming stretch and a cooling stretch before each run. This gets the blood flowing and keeps your joints and muscles from becoming so tightened. By stretching those elastic muscles, you will keep them loosened and flexible, so as to prevent any injuries. Stretching will also alleviate shin splints and foot cramps.

3. Cross-Training

Runners tend to only want to do one thing: run. This is not wise because there are other muscles in your body that arenít used as frequently, causing them to become weaker. This causes imbalance and overuse of some muscles.

Weak thigh muscles is the culprit of most knee injuries because running strengthens the hamstrings more than the quadriceps, causing an imbalance which will cause the kneecaps to twist and pull to one side.

By cross-training, you are strengthening other muscles on a routine basis, especially those core muscles that help to strengthen the entire body. Core strengthening exercises will work the quadriceps and the hamstrings (for balance), as well as the buttocks and the hips.

4. Avoid Overuse

That means not doing too much, too fast or too hard. The best way to increase any running routine is to only increase your mileage by 10% each week. Always start out slow and avoid the feeling to do too much, even if you feel great. Itís also important to take periodic breaks in your running routine, giving your body time to recover and replenish itself. This can be anywhere from a week off here and there to resting 1-2 days before doing your weekend long runs.

5. Nutrition

Maintaining healthy joints that are injury free is connected to your nutrition, caloric intake and supplementation. The runnerís body needs calcium, and the recommended daily amount of 1,000-1,200 calcium milligrams each day will do wonders. Joint support supplements like glucosamine (1,500 mg) and chondroitin (1,200 mg) taken daily can strengthen the runnerís joints and surrounding tissues and replaces the cartilage thatís often lost as a result of aging.

By incorporating these suggestions into your running routine, you should begin to see a marked difference almost immediately. You can further avoid any knee issues by taking steps to ensure that youíre following these guidelines and practical applications as you develop your running routine. Injuries can be eliminated and become a distant thing of the past, allowing you to enjoy the sport to its fullest.

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