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10 ways to prevent running injuries

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  1. Build distance gradually. Don't launch whole-heartedly into a six-mile run if it's your first time back on the treadmill in two months. Unfortunately, runners lose stamina quickly and it usually takes about twice as long as your break was to build back up to the same level of performance. Try adding a mile every few days to a week, and you'll be back to normal in no time.
  2. Improve your running posture. Running with a wacky angle or an awkward bend will result in sore joints and muscles. Double check to make sure you're running with perfect posture. The correct way to run is with a straight back and a body angled slightly forward. When your knees bend, they should track directly over your toes. Finally, your head weighs a lot (eight pounds to be exact) so make sure you carry that weight as efficiently as possible. That means stacking your head directly over your neck and shoulders, creating a straight line through your entire body.
  3. Buy new shoes. Old shoes lose their support and cause knee, ankle and back problems in no time. A good rule of thumb is to change your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. In the market for a new pair? I'm a personal fan of Brooks Ghost running shoes for women.
  4. Stretch after your runs. Stretch after every single run. Stretching not only increases flexibility and prevents muscle cramps, but it actually relieves stress.
  5. But never stretch excessively before your run. Even light jogging with too limber of muscles can actually lead to running injuries. It's OK to stretch a little to warm up before a run, but save the splits and three-minute-pose holds for afterward.
  6. Take precautions. If you have an old injury that's been giving you trouble or you know that you're going to go on a particularly long run with a sore knee or ankle, wrap it. Some wraps can be bulky, so check out lighter wraps that still provide support.
  7. Eat a banana. Feeling sore after a run? Grab a banana. The potassium in the fruit will have your muscles feeling as good as new in no time.
  8. Build strength. A lot of times, runners don't realize that strength training will actually help them run faster and farther, with a lower risk of injury. Focusing on strengthening your core is an especially good idea. Try throwing in some planks and a few crunches after a shorter run. If you work your core three time a week, you'll visibly see results, as well as seeing an improvement in your running, in as little as two months.
  9. Consistency is key. Not only will consistency help you reach goals, build endurance and run faster, but it's also one of the best ways to prevent running injuries. When you're running on a regular basis, your body expects the activity and will take your next run in stride.
  10. ...but don't forget about your off days. While consistent training is definitely a good thing, always remember to give your body a break. Most injuries happen when the body is pushed too far. One way to avoid these types of injuries is to take a day off or go for a very light run the day after a long run. A good rule of thumb is to travel no more than 1/4 the distance of your long run. So, if you ran eight miles yesterday, let two miles be your limit today.
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